I try to remind myself every day that “the dumps” is a dangerous place to be. Cain found out when his visit there led him to kill his brother. After offering his unacceptable sacrifice, God had warned him, “Why are you angry, and why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin couches at the door,” Gen 4:6,7, ASV.
That word “couch” is a little odd to us. We seem to think that God made a typo, and usually read it “crouch.” The old King James says, “Lies at the door,” but that misses the connotation—an animal hunched up and ready to spring on its unwary prey. Just like a lion, we might think, and isn’t that appropriate when we consider who exactly is waiting at the door for us and why?
When you allow yourself to visit “the dumps” you make yourself a prime target. Grief certainly isn’t wrong, disappointment isn’t a sinful emotion, anger isn’t either according to Ephesians 4, but every one of those “downers” make us vulnerable to something that is sinful—bitterness, malice, and vengeance, just to name a few.
“Get out of there,” God told Cain, but Cain stayed. Instead of changing his attitude, his anger and disappointment became resentment and he slew his brother.
When we wallow in the mires of sadness, we are far more prone to blame it all on God and give up our faith. When we flounder around in the seas of anger, we are more apt to lash out. If we tend toward hurt feelings, we are more likely to think badly of a perfectly innocent brother or sister, and then act on that bad feeling. And every one of those “countenances” has to do with me making myself the center of attention. When all I think about is me and how I feel and what has happened to me, Satan is leading me as if he were a compass, straight to the place where I will be more likely to fall.
How do you stay out of the dumps? Do well, God told Cain. When you are doing, you are far less likely to get into trouble. When others become the center of your attention, you will suddenly find you have left “the dumps.” Satan will have no hand hold on you. He can only get a good grip when your countenance falls, your mood dips, or your attitude sours on people and life in general. Then he will step right up and be the friend you think you need, the one who says, “Of course you deserve better than this, of course they were mean to you, of course God has deserted you.”
Have you been hearing those words lately? Be careful. You are visiting the dumps again and the owner of that junkyard is not your friend.
When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you. Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. For behold, those who are far from you shall perish; you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you. But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, that I may tell of all your works. Psa 73:21-28