Jesus alone brings true peace for the distressed

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By Brian Owens

I read a story about a man named Bill. His wife left him and he became so depressed that his doctor sent him for psychiatric help. Bill told the psychiatrist his difficulties and surmised, “Life isn’t worth living.” The psychiatrist retorted, “Don’t be so rash, Bill; let work be your recovery. I want you to totally plunge yourself in your work. Now, what do you do for a living?” Bill looked even more distraught as he replied, “I clean out septic tanks.” So much for the power of positive thinking!
Distress is a regular part of life. Job remarked that “man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble” (14:1). Where do we go in these times of suffering? Consider the worlds of Psalm 86:1, “Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.” These words, penned by King David, were written in a time of personal anguish. We don’t know the setting for sure. Perhaps he was fleeing from his enemy Saul; maybe it was in the midst of his son Absalom’s rebellion. Whatever the circumstances, there is no doubt that David had a need; and he knew where to go. He went to his heavenly Father, just as a child should.
God is aware when his people hurt. Just as the cries of his children in Egyptian bondage rose to his ears, so do the cries of his children today who are suffering the under the burden of a fallen world. As the old Puritan preacher described, God draws near to us in our affliction “as the careful physician does to the sick patient.”
God only draws near, however, to those who know their need of him. David cries, “I am poor and needy.” In other words, “I am twice the child of poverty.” The one who knows he is full of needs that cannot be supplied in himself is the one to whom God draws near.
As wearisome as our sufferings are, though, our greatest problem is our sin. Jesus said that he came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10) and that only sinners qualify for salvation (Luke 5:32). Only the one who knows he needs mercy that will receive it (Luke 18:13).
This is why Jesus says “blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3). We must realize that we cannot get to him on our own initiative; even our greatest efforts fall short. We cannot even see our need apart from God’s grace. But once we know our need, there is only source of help.
The grace that saves from our sin is the same grace that preserves us in our suffering, and both are given by the Lord Jesus Christ. He alone brings true peace because he alone can save. The only lasting comfort is found in Christ. Rest in his free and sovereign grace today! Repent and believe the Gospel!

Brian Owens is an associate pastor with youth and children emphasis at Farmdale Baptist Church. He can be reached via e-mail at brian@farmdalebaptist.com.