And then I saw Romans 15:13 — "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope." God gives joy and peace. Thank God. How does He give joy and peace? In believing. But wait — I'll believe when I feel joy and peace! That will tell me I'm really a child, an elect child of God!Right? Amen?
"No," Paul would say to me, to you: "you have it backwards. You don't get joy and peace, and then believe. Believe, and then you will know joy and peace."
In which Dan rightly intended for you, the smoldering wick, the bruised reed, to take refuge. How you "feel" should be about knowing Christ is the one who gives you what you need, not in how you have given what you need to give.
And many people needed to hear that. I needed to hear that. Inside my personal echo chamber, the me I see in there is the me who doesn't do what he ought, and does what he ought not to do, and who can save me from this wretched state? Praise be to God: it's the Lord Jesus Christ.
And I can see me that way. You can see you that way.
But the real trick in the Christian life is to see others that way. That is: just as you are Christ's in spite of your pitiable state, the other believers you encounter are Christ's in spite of their pitiable state. Maybe they work too much. Maybe they are social misfits. Maybe they are essentially emotionally blank. Maybe they have never thought about a stranger's impressions of their actions.
Maybe they are just tired and they don't have the energy for you. You are a burden, you have to admit, even after a good night's sleep.
So that refuge in which we can rejoice in Christ for our own personal sake, and escape the real and right fear of our sins in Christ -- it's actually bigger than us. It's bigger than one person.
See: it's somewhat basic to say, "Christ died for me." It's probably the most basic thing you have to get to start this discussion. But Christ didn't die for "me" -- He died for "US".
If there's a refuge against the dark shadow of doubt in Christ for you personally, it should be greater than just you personally. It should be the place where you overcome the smallness of you and get joined together in the holy temple of our God -- which is not a building, but a body and family.
The joy for you is all our joy. You should come and see it with us -- in spite of us, and because of Christ.