How A 'New Normal' Gave Me Reason to Search My Heart.
I would never have expected to have to complete most of my spring 2020 college semester online. Due to Covid-19, I moved back home to embrace a new normal. Class lectures turned into pre-recorded sessions on my laptop, two-hour classroom exams turned into online assessments, and face-to-face meetings with my professors turned into streams of emails. It became very easy to put off assignments, cram the night before an exam, or forget I had class altogether. As life began to slow down and this new normal became a reality, procrastination and laziness began to creep into my life.
Before I knew it, I found my heart lying idle—a dangerous place to be. Idleness encourages laziness and temptation sets in. I began letting my guard down in the battle against my fleshly desires. For instance, delaying my quiet time, struggling with comparison, wrestling against selfishness, and much more. It was so easy for my priorities to become misaligned – scrolling through my phone for excessive amounts of time, or clicking “watch next episode” on Netflix after I had already watched three. As I found myself struggling against an idle heart, I remembered something Paul wrote.
“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate (Romans 7:15, ESV).”
This verse always leaves me asking, ‘Why? Why do I do the things I hate? Why do I continue to fall into the world’s trap despite knowing the truth of the gospel?’
As thoughts and questions rolled around in my mind, my heart was drawn to Psalm 51, a well-known prayer of repentance that David writes after his adulterous behavior. With an idle heart that often underestimates the daily battle against my flesh, I could identify with David’s cries of repentance. I am broken over my own sin, and I desire what David desires in verse 12:
“Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit (Psalm 51:12, ESV).”
David does not merely pray for strength to overcome temptation and win the battle against his flesh, but he prays for the joy of his salvation to also be restored. David recognized that his falling for temporary happiness had overshadowed his gift of eternal joy. What he desired most was God’s forgiveness, and he desperately wanted his joy back.
“Restore to me the joy of your salvation.” Why does David say this? Because his joy began to fade when he fell into sin with Bathsheba. Our joy begins to fade when we fall into sin, too. For example, when we scroll on social media for an unhealthy amount of time, our joy begins to fade. When we click on porn, our joy begins to fade. When we get caught up in gossip, hold bitterness in our hearts, are impatient with others, dwell on impure thoughts, lie, or whatever the sin may be, our joy begins to fade. When our joy fades, we find ourselves doing the very things we hate like Paul says in Romans 7:15. When we recognize that we’re doing the very things we hate, the joy of our salvation needs to be restored.
Psalm 51 exposes how our hearts falter when we do not remain steadfast in the supreme joy of Christ. When the Lord is not the center of our thoughts, our hearts waver and give into temptation. Though we are new creations in Christ, we will never cease to battle against our flesh and sin while on earth. We will always be fighting to make God supreme over all of our thoughts and feelings, but take heart my friends, Christ has already won the victory. We never have to fight alone. That’s something to be joyful about.
So, let’s not get caught up in simply treating the symptoms of sin, but let’s seek the Cure—Jesus. May our prayers not only be a plea for strength in our battle against the flesh, but may they also be a cry for joy. “For the joy of the Lord is my strength (Nehemiah 8:10, ESV).”
ALLIE PAIGE THORNTON
is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Anderson University where she also works for Campus Ministries. Allie Paige is employed by the South Carolina Baptist Convention at their youth and children’s camps, SummerSalt and KidSalt.