Asaph, a Levite from the priestly line in Israel, was a singer who served as David’s appointed choir director. A psalmist who wrote righteous instruction for God’s people, he wrote Psalm 77 after he fell into a deep depression: “My soul refused to be comforted” (77:2).
The truth is, Asaph’s experience isn’t unusual for believers. Indeed, these deep, dark trials were experienced by great preachers of the past. For example, Charles Haddon Spurgeon was known as one of the godliest Bible preachers of all time, a praying man who sought the Lord continually. Yet he faced deep, awful depressions (in his day, the condition was referred to as “melancholy”).
John William Fletcher, another great servant of God, suffered deep depression. Fletcher ministered under none other than John Wesley, who called him the most godly man on the face of the earth. This man exuded the Spirit of Christ, yet he also experienced the depths that Asaph described. A horrible depression would come over him out of nowhere, afflicting him for days on end.
Andrew Bonar, a godly pastor of the nineteenth century, described having similar experiences. He wrote this agonizing entry in his journal: “I need to be free from the shadow of fear, uncertainty … Shame and sorrow fill me because of my unholiness … There seems to be a cloud between me and the Son of Righteousness.”
Each of these prayerful ministers faced an hour of deep depression. Not even the godly, devoted apostle Paul was immune. He wrote to the Corinthians, “Trouble … came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life” (2 Corinthians 1:8). Of course, Paul was delivered and came out victoriously!
Even Christ faced a deeply trying hour and he told Andrew and Philip, “Now my soul is troubled” (John 12:27). When Jesus said this, he was facing the cross, knowing the time of his death was near. Later, Jesus told those who would crucify him, “This is your hour, and the power of darkness” (Luke 22:53). Jesus was saying, in essence, “This is Satan’s hour.” Likewise, you can be sure your dark, troubling hour is Satan’s doing.
It’s good to know that the Lord doesn’t put awful depression on his people. He wants to help you recover your joy, peace, and rest as you come into a clear understanding of his own glorious purpose in your testing — delivered and victorious.
Jesus said of John, “Among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist” (Luke 7:28). Christ dignified this godly man. He was the one who would lay a straight path before the Messiah, in preparation for his coming: “Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God” (Isaiah 40:3).
We know that John was a student of Isaiah’s prophecies. The word that came to him could be traced to Isaiah’s writings, and John referred to Isaiah when the priests and Levites asked him to identify himself. When they inquired, “Who are you, really?” John always answered, “I am not the Christ” (John 1:20). Finally, when pressed further, he identified himself as the one about whom Isaiah prophesied: “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Make straight the way of the Lord’” (John 1:23).
John the Baptist was anxious to confirm that Jesus was the Messiah. John’s followers were filled with reverence for Jesus as they described all the works he was performing, yet somewhere along the way doubt began to grip John’s heart. In spite of all the miracles Christ had performed, something troubled this godly man’s soul. The same devil who tempted Jesus in the wilderness is the one who attempted to destroy John’s faith.
Jesus knew that John was human, and no matter how powerfully anointed he was, he was still subject to all the feelings and passions that are common to man. Christ knew John was in danger of being overwhelmed by doubt. Jesus had been through the same test himself, during his forty days in the wilderness, and he was able to tell John, “The devil is setting you up. But you cannot entertain his lies.”
John received Jesus’ message to him, which was, in essence, “John, there awaits a blessing of faith and reassurance for you if you will resist Satan’s lie. Do not allow unbelief about who I am to take root in you.”
Right now, Satan wants you to be anxious about God’s promises concerning your life, your family, your future, your ministry. In a word, the enemy wants you to give up.
Beloved, God is doing a work in you. John took his doubt directly to Jesus and Jesus gave him exactly what he needed. Likewise, hold on in faith and you will see his perfect work completed in your soul.
“That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7).
God has shown his loving, warmhearted kindness to us. Therefore, we can wake up shouting, “Hallelujah! God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit want to be near me.”
Every Christian will face temptations and hardships, but in the midst of our trials, we are able to abound with thanksgiving because of his everlasting kindness toward us. Paul tells us this is exactly why God has made us to sit together with Christ.
One of the great blessings that becomes ours when we are made to sit in heavenly places is that we enjoy the privilege of acceptance. “He made us accepted in [Christ]” (Ephesians 1:6). The Greek word for “accepted” here means highly favored. That is different from the English usage, which can be interpreted to mean “received as adequate.” This signifies something that can be endured, suggesting an attitude of, “I can live with it.” That’s not the case with Paul’s usage. His use of “accepted” translates as, “God has highly favored us.” We are very special to him because we are in our place in Christ.
You see, because God accepted Christ’s sacrifice, he now sees only one, corporate man: Christ, and those who are bound to him by faith. In short, our flesh has died in God’s eyes. How? Jesus did away with our old nature at the cross. So now, when God looks at us, he sees only Christ. In turn, we need to learn to see ourselves as God does. That means not focusing solely on our sins and weaknesses, but on the victory that Christ won for us at the cross.
The parable of the prodigal son provides a powerful illustration of the acceptance that comes when we’re given a heavenly position in Christ. You know the story: a young man took his inheritance from his father and squandered it on a sinful life. Then, once the son became completely bankrupt — morally, emotionally, and spiritually — he thought of his father and was convinced he had lost all favor with him.
The son returned to his father, repentant and broken, expecting to be rejected but his father welcomed him with open arms of forgiveness and acceptance. “His father saw him and had compassion and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him” (Luke 15:20).
Experience the full blessings of your acceptance today!
We are told that Christ himself has brought us into a heavenly position with him. Yet if that is so, then many Christians are living far beneath the promises God has provided. Think about it: if we are actually living in Christ, seated with him in the throne room of heaven, how could any believer still be enslaved to his flesh? We have been given a position in him for a reason. But many in Christ’s Body have not claimed or appropriated it.
Paul says, “Which [God] worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church” (Ephesians 1:20-22).
Most Christians don’t have any difficulty believing Christ is there. We preach, “Jesus is even now on the throne. He’s above all principalities and powers, far beyond Satan’s reach.” Yet we find it hard to accept the following truth: “[God has] raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (2:6). We can believe Christ is already in the heavenly position, seated with the Father. But we can’t accept that we’re also seated there, in the very same throne room. Yet, Jesus himself already told us, “I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2).
To many, this sounds like a fantasy, some theological illusion: “You mean that I don’t have to live my life being hot and cold, up and down? I can keep my intimacy with Christ intact?”
Yes, absolutely! Paul declares, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). Notice that Paul says all spiritual blessings are bestowed in the throne room. All the riches of Christ are available to us there: steadfastness, strength, rest, ever-increasing peace.
Paul makes it crystal clear: to have the blessings of Christ flow through us, we must be seated with Christ in the throne room of heaven! The only way to the throne-life is by way of a living sacrifice: “Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).
Growing up I never fully appreciated the mantle my father, David Wilkerson, wore in his role as a “watchman.” He spent hours wrestling with God over the difficult sermons he delivered regarding the subject of judgment. As a young man I failed to understand the purpose of prophetic messages. My Bible was filled with underlined passages about grace, peace, and the unity of Christians, not judgment, wrath, and societal chaos.
As Christians, we know our hope doesn’t rest in this world. Right now, the enemy is stoking violence, and troubles have come to our cities more visibly than ever. Some of this is racial, some of it is economic. Satan has gained a foothold through violence, but he never settles for that — he always seeks to kick the door in and take over completely. And I believe he wants all-out war in the streets.
I tremble as I say this. Yet this is just one result of societies that turn themselves over to godlessness. When evil is called good, and good evil, God allows judgment to fall. He doesn’t do this to destroy but so that we may recognize the evil we’ve allowed and turn our hearts and hope back to him.
“Understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty” (2 Timothy 3:1). Paul doesn’t say this to scare us. He attributes it all to the sin of the human heart: “For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people” (3:2-5).
That is quite a list of sins. Yet Paul is talking not only to the world but also to us Christians: “having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.”
Satan will continue to spew forth death and only one thing can resist his hell on earth: a church that is able to stand up and speak God’s Word boldly with integrity. Without a holy presence in this darkening world, the world will never know an alternative. Our mission is to preach the gospel of peace and justice, to bring hope where there is fear, and to restore life where it has been destroyed.
It's time to seek the Lord’s face and call on heaven to see a spiritual awakening in our society.