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Eye Strain + Heart Pain = Soul-Suffering Sadness

We all experience challenges in life. If life is not tough for you right now, just wait. I’m sure you know that it will be soon. I don’t mean to sound pessimistic, but you know it’s true. Trials, tests, and tribulation await all of us. It’s part of life.

So we all must ask ourselves, are we prepared to face the storms of life? Will we be ready when the storms rock our “ship” and overwhelm us with “waves” of distress and despair? Is overcoming them possible? Or must we just grit our teeth, “weather” the storm, and wait it out?

Sometimes our suffering is a consequence of our own sin. Other times it comes from the sins of others. And sometimes despair rises up from the news reports that fill the airwaves with the devastating consequences of sin. Whatever it is that disturbs our peace and unsettles our souls, we definitely face storms in a world that is disheartening, discouraging, and distressing. But there is hope.

So how do we overcome distress and despair, sadness and suffering? There’s an ancient answer that always works and it involves the eyes and the heart! We’ll get to the answer, but first, let’s think about eye strain and heart pain.

Screen Time
The 21st century ushered in the “screen generation.” Everyone now has their eyes focused on some sort of screen. We learn from and are entertained by TVs, movies, computers, tablets, and phone screens. While these “screens” can deliver content that is godly and beneficial, they also deliver sinful and destructive content with images showcasing the seductions of worldly lust and the sins of fleshly desires. What we see and hear on these screens enters into our minds and influences our thinking, our words, and our actions.

Whether we like it or not, the new way to connect with friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, and just about everyone is on a screen. It’s true that we’ve never been more connected. But it’s also true that we are more disconnected than ever before. In-person meetings and phone calls that offered personal interaction have been replaced with video conferencing, emails, and text messages (the shorter, the better). Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media have turned the personal diary or journal into a public platform for every thought, word, and activity. They serve as a window to the soul, which in some cases reveals more than should be told.

Eye Strain + Heart Pain = Soul-Suffering Sadness
Sadly, far too many people can’t seem to take their eyes off the screens. It’s no longer the bright lights of a city that capture our attention. Instead, it’s the dim glare of various screens that mesmerizes our minds.

Electronic connectivity is contributing to a breakdown in interpersonal communication skills that is troublesome at best and destructive at worst. Most of the branding and messaging that people see and hear is telling them to get more, to be more, and to do more. We’re told we need more to be happy. The messages subtly suggest that happiness is in our hands and satisfaction can be obtained through worldly gain. As Christians, we know this is far from the truth.

So what are we to do when the “kingdom of self” is rapidly expanding and people are finding satisfaction in getting more, rather than giving more? What are we to do when people are conforming to the world and Jesus is being forgotten.

Overcoming Sadness with Hope
When worldly things and fleshly pleasures do not satisfy, despair increases, depression abounds the soul suffers, and sadness results. The solution to a suffering soul can’t be found on a screen. You can’t “touch” your way through a few web pages and find real comfort and true peace. You might find a few platitudinous thoughts that will provide a temporary jolt of relief, but real comfort is only found in a Person–the Lord Jesus Christ.

As always, God’s Word has the answer. Three times the psalmist asked, why are you downcast, oh my soul? (Psalm 42:5, 11, 43:5). Without expecting an answer, he quickly gave the solution to his downcast condition:

Psalm 42:6 O my God, my soul is cast down within me; Therefore I will remember You…

The psalmist had the right focus. It wasn’t looking deep inside himself and understanding his feelings. It wasn’t looking to words on a piece of parchment. And it certainly didn’t involve a screen of any sort. The solution was found by looking up and “seeing” the Lord Jesus.

Seeing the Screen or Seeing the Saviour?
The solution to a downcast soul is to remember the Lord, to “see” the Saviour. We began with Eye Strain + Heart Pain = Soul-Suffering Sadness. Let’s look at that equation:

Eye Strain: Whatever worldly lights are before us, Jesus shines brighter.
Heart Pain: Whatever heart pain we feel, He is our hope
Soul Suffering: Whatever suffering we experience, He is our comfort.
Sadness: Whatever problem we face, He is with us.
Real joy only comes by remembering our God and remembering all that we already have! When we understand that we have been given everything we need, then we are free to give everything we have. That is the true joy that comes when we find our rest and satisfaction in the Lord. It is the joy that Nehemiah expressed, “Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)

Eye Strain is a choice. We choose to focus our eyes on the screens of our day. Let us look to the Saviour. Jesus is the only One who is capable of truly satisfying our souls.

The psalmist sought the Lord before he acknowledged his downcast soul suffering. He reversed the unhealthy equation from. . . Eye Strain + Heart Pain = Soul Suffering Sadness to a God-seeking, God-focused, God-loving, God-honoring equation. . .Soul Suffering Sadness – Heart pain – Eye Strain = Seeing Jesus and Seeing Jesus = Steadfast Love + Joyful Heart + Peaceful Rest + Strengthening Hope

The psalmist remembered God and focused his eyes upward. God uplifted his soul, healed his heart, removed his sadness, and restored his hope and joy. The psalmist closed his psalm proclaiming God’s faithfulness and provision:

Psa 42:1-2 As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.

Psa 42:6 O my God, my soul is cast down within me; Therefore I will remember You…

Psa 42:8, 43:2-4 The LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, And in the night His song shall be with me…For You are the God of my strength…Oh, send out Your light and Your truth! Let them lead me; Let them bring me to Your holy hill And to Your tabernacle. Then I will go to the altar of God, To God my exceeding joy; And on the harp I will praise You, O God, my God.

Seeing + Hoping
The psalmist had the answer….and so do we! Look to Jesus.

Jesus is the only one who can satisfy the hunger of our souls (Matthew 5:6, Luke 1:53).
Jesus is the only one who gives sure and steadfast hope in this world (Hebrews 6:19) and hope for the one to come (Colossians 1:27).
In the dark seasons of the soul, and even in the bright light of happy days, fix your eyes on the Author and Finisher of your faith, Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). He is ever-present (Hebrews 13:5). Seek Him early, and then when life’s challenges, disappointments, troubles, and worries open the door to sadness, remember. . .
Psa 43:5 Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.

Joy in Jesus
In Jesus alone is inexpressible joy–the only joy that truly satisfies.

1 Pet 1:3-5 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

1 Pet 1:6-8 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith; the salvation of your souls.

Bible References

42 As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.

My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?

My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?

When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday.

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.

O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar.

Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me.

Yet the Lord will command his lovingkindness in the day time, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.

I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?

10 As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God?

11 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

11 In the Lord put I my trust: how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain?

For, lo, the wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string, that they may privily shoot at the upright in heart.

If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?

The Lord is in his holy temple, the Lord‘s throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men.

The Lord trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth.

Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup.

For the righteous Lord loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright.

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

10 Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength.

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

53 He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.

19 Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;

27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,

Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:

That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:

1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;

Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:

Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,

Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Not of works, lest any man should boast.

10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

11 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;

12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:

13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;

15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;

16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:

17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.

18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.

19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;

20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;

21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:

22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

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I will comfort you just like a mother would.