Do you meditate? Actually, the better question is: how do you meditate? Everyone does it.
I'm not talking about sitting cross-legged as you connect with Mother Earth. No, by meditation, I mean this: what captures your mind, controls your thoughts, and dominates the desires of your heart?
I wish I could take the religious high road and answer, "God is the focus of my meditation!" But for many of us, outside of intentional moments of public worship or private devotion, God doesn't occupy our meditation as frequently as he ought.
In a fallen world, many other things kidnap our meditation. Like these:
· the disloyalty of a close friend
· constant harassment from a co-worker or boss
· the discouraging state of our finances
· disappointment with our local church
· the dysfunction of our extended family
· the daily struggles of marriage and parenting
· our frenetic and demanding schedule
· an unexpected illness or chronic pain
I'm sure multiple, if not all, of those hardships have come knocking at your door at some point in your life. For many readers, I wouldn't be surprised if you were experiencing most of those currently. Such is life in a fallen world! So how are we supposed to respond?
One of the themes in Scripture is this: Biblical faith never requires us to deny reality in any way. Abraham, for example, considered the harsh biological facts of his situation but he did not weaken his faith (see Romans 4:19).
On the other hand, there's a crucial difference between facing harsh realities and allowing those realities to dominate the meditation of your heart. Joshua, for example, was facing the most daunting of tasks, but was counseled by God to focus on God, not the task (see Joshua 1:9).
Here's what biblical faith does in the midst of hardship: It considers the reality of life in a fallen world while choosing to make the Lord its meditation.
The more you meditate on your problems, the bigger and more insurmountable they seem to be. But meditating on God in the midst of your trouble reminds you that He is infinitely greater than any problem you could ever experience!
When you consider the facts of your life, but meditate on the power, wisdom, and love of your Father, your responses are shaped by His glorious character, and not by your difficult circumstances.
1. Read Genesis 18 and Joshua 1. What difficulties and hardships are Abraham, Sarah, and Joshua experiencing?
2. How are you experiencing, or how have you experienced, similar difficulties and hardships in a fallen world?
3. What is the natural human response (without biblical faith) to such difficulties and hardships? In what ways have you entertained those responses?
4. How does a God-focused meditation change our response to those same circumstances? Consider Abraham, Sarah, and Joshua again.
5. How can you encourage others to meditate on the glorious character of God more than their harsh realities?