My Dear Friend,
My prayer is that today’s devotional will encourage you to trust in the Lord, knowing that despite what we see happening in the world, God’s love for you stands unchanged. Please know that you are loved, you are missed, and I look forward to seeing you soon.
Love in Christ Jesus,
“The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers…Cast all your anxiety upon God, because God cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind, because your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will restore, support, strengthen, and establish you.” 1 Peter 4:7; 5:7-10
A Healthier, Longer-Lasting Way to Ease the Pain
This week, I read a heartbreaking article in The New York Times. With the tagline, “NUMBING THE PAIN,” the article was entitled: “Sobering Reality: Many Are Drinking to Excess.”
Citing statistics, the journalist, Maria Cramer, wrote:
The boredom of staying home and the intense anxiety produced by the pandemic have given rise to [social media] jokes about drinking before noon as alcohol sales have spiked. But addiction experts say they are worried it could also trigger more serious drinking problems and even create new ones for people who have never struggled with alcohol dependency before. (Cramer 2020)
The article indicates that many are seeking to reduce boredom and anxiety in ways that give immediate relief. But we know that such measures do not last very long. The numbing effect soon wears off and the emotional pain returns, often with a vengeance. In the meantime, our long-term health and wellbeing have been further compromised.
So how do we ease the pain of the present crisis – or any crisis – in a way that does not ultimately do us more harm than good?
In today’s reading, the Apostle Peter made note of the fact that his readers – and their brothers and sisters throughout the world – were undergoing the same kind of sufferings (v.9). His purpose, therefore, was to impart lasting hope during an extended time of anxiety and discouragement.
There is a recurring word in this epistle: “sober.” The New Testament Greek word is nepho, which means “a state of alert watchfulness.” Yes, the Bible does discourage intoxication, but its concept of sobriety goes further, inferring the need to be aware of any distractions or mechanisms that would prevent our being alert to the real cause of our suffering, and how to cope with it.
Peter suggests ways for relieving our emotional pain that may not be nearly as quick, but which build strength and endurance in the long run.
Speaking the truth in love, he urges:
“Be sober-minded for the sake of your prayers” (4:7). Drowsiness prevents effective prayer.
“Cast all your anxiety upon God because God cares for you” (5:7). Your caring God says, “Throw your anxiety at Me, rather than relying on temporary means that will never satisfy.
“Be alert and of sober mind” (5:8). Be like a security guard, vigilantly standing watch to protect someone – in this case, yourself!
“Resist your adversary, remaining steadfast in faith” (5:9). Our time of suffering is also our time of greatest vulnerability. It is consequently the most opportune time for our Adversary to attack – spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Therefore, resist the short-lived offers, and instead, choose the enduring solution of faith in God.
“And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will restore, support, strengthen, and establish you” (5:10).
Here is the challenge! The world entices us with many things to give temporary comfort – and always with the intention of making a profit. But with God, faith, and prayer, there is still a time of suffering “for a little while.” That “little while” may seem like an eternity. But in God’s mind, it is just enough time to develop the strength needed for endurance.
So please be encouraged by that fact that, God’s way takes longer, but we come out stronger. It is the healthier, longer-lasting way to ease the pain.
One final note: We must be careful not to judge those who have resorted to any temporary means for “numbing the pain,” as we all have done this in one way or another. Our calling is to love and encourage; to “comfort others with the same comfort that God has given us” (2 Corinthians 1:4).
This week, may you rest in the Apostle Peter’s promise that, “the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will restore, support, strengthen, and establish you.” Amen.
Cramer, Maria. 2020. “Sobering Reality: Many are Drinking to Excess.” The New York Times, May 27: A4.