The Saddest Phrase

What's the saddest thing you've ever heard?

Maybe the death of a child. A couple divorcing after 50 years.

A mother running away from her family.

Tragedy seems endless and terrible things happened in Bible times, too: murders, idol worship, infanticide, adultery...


Some things don't change much.

But one phrase in the Old Testament is startling in its hopelessness

and in its relevant application today.

This phrase refers to Samson after he'd been tricked by Delilah

and lost his strength.

Judges 16 reports that he said: "I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.

"But he did not know that the LORD had departed from him."

He'd flirted with the enemy and lost---

and he didn't even know it.

As a counselor, I encounter Christians who are engulfed by problems God never intended them to have. They pray, read their Bibles, and frantically run through their lists of Christian practices in hopes that something will help.


Nothing does. Because they do not realize that the power of the Lord has departed from them.


When we give ourselves over to sin, to the world, to our natural inclinations little by little, we can fool ourselves for quite a while. "I can handle it." "It's just a little white lie." "I'm not hurting anybody." We dance on the edge, self-confidence replacing the God-reliance we once knew.

And then suddenly we're falling. Out of control, our world shatters and we scream for help, fully expecting God to deliver us as he has in the past.

And nothing happens.


It's not a race to see who can be the most holy, who can keep the commandments, or who won the gold star in church attendance. God doesn't keep a tally sheet, marking you off for every slip-up until he finally shakes his head, slaps the book shut, and says, "That's it for her. She's used up her grace for the year. C'mon, Holy Spirit, we're finished here."


It's a choice made by the human heart, just as Samson made the choice when he allowed God's source of strength to be shorn off. We're the ones who cut ourselves off from God's power by flirting with the enemy. We no longer have unrestricted access to His help 24/7. God is still available--but now it's by appointment only.


The good news is that Samson wasn't finished. He still had time to regain that strength, but he never became all God intended him to be. God still used him to do great things, but it was done in agony and heartbreak rather than the victory and joy God planned.


God isn't finished with you either. As my clients are learning, it's never too late for God to turn something tragic into something beautiful, when you leave the results with him.


Have you ever thought of it that way? If you're facing continual defeat, maybe it's time for a checkup. Has the spirit of God departed from you--and you never knew it?


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