The word and idea of beholding has been a theme for me throughout this year. To behold something is to see or observe; to watch, contemplate, consider and perceive. 2020 has been an interesting year to say the least and has shifted what we are seeing and how we are observing it. Although we are all “seeing” the same events unfold, how we are observing them has changed and is unique for each of us. We have had more time to watch, contemplate and consider the things we are seeing, yet very limited ability to act on it, which has produced a variety of responses in us. Many have responded emotionally in anger, depression, anxiety, etc. Others have responded relationally in isolation, rebellion, hatred, love/service. Still others have responded cognitively in study, writing, advocacy, etc. There have been many “healthy” and “unhealthy” responses to the changes we have perceived in 2020.
What is faith? Upon first read, I would not have thought Hebrews to be a book that helped me define what faith is. It seemed a highly theological argument that served a specific purpose for Jews questioning the gospel of Jesus; not a guide for our current day's struggle with faith. Yet a more in-depth study of the book revealed to me a framework of faith; a process for daily life that could be so beautifully applied to our modern day questions of what it looks like to have faith - or better yet, to remain in the faith and endure to the end.
Jesus was fully man and fully God. His humanity is intriguing and gives us so much hope in our own human frailty. Being fully man, he experienced all the things that we do. Some of the most encouraging reminders of this are seen in the desires and emotions he experienced. Scripture is full of instances in which Jesus expressed emotion and the weakness of his flesh.(Matthew 26:38, John 11:33-35, John 13:21)
One such text struck me today while reading Matthew 14. Although it isn’t one of the overt examples of his humanity, it drew me in to relating with Jesus in his emotional experience. Verses 1-12 tell of the awful and unjust death of John the Baptist; the man who came before Jesus, giving his life to prepare the way for him. Upon hearing this, verse 13 says that,
“Jesus withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself....” (Matthew 14:13)
Although not stated specifically, having experienced death ourselves, we can almost infer his need to grieve from his desire to be alone. We see many examples of Jesus demonstrating this need to be alone. The need to rest. He modeled what true rest was over and over for the disciples (see the same story in Mark 6). In this situation, Jesus may have needed rest for his heart. A time of rest to grieve, process, lament, pray and seek the Lord. As fallen humans, we too must desire to rest; to put ourselves in a place where we can be alone and connect with the Lord emotionally, cognitively, and spiritually in heart, mind, and spirit.
All of us have experienced the frustration and discouragement of knowing something as true in our minds and yet either forgetting that truth in times of needed application or in failing to experience that truth in our hearts. God provides us with means of moving truth from our minds to our hearts. Meditation is taught and practiced in scripture as a primary spiritual discipline to accomplish just that. Meditation helps us connect the truth we take into our minds and land it in our hearts, thus affecting how we see life and relationships, suffering and sin, and leading us toward God in trust and obedience to Him. Below is a brief overview along with simple instructions on meditation. It is adapted from Steve Midgley’s article “Meditating for a Change: Embracing a Lost Art,” The Journal of Biblical Counseling, volume 34 (1), pp. 20-38.
The beauty of analogy is that it brings what is intangible into view. It helps us to make sense of the things we cannot see.
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8
This verse sparked an analogy for me. An analogy of the human condition and a framework from which to view our suffering - internally and externally - to get at the heart. I love using this analogy in counseling; to bring hope and healing to those in front of me. Let me unpack it for you.