Is The Cross of Christ Comforting You?

by | Oct 20, 2022 | Christian Living in the Trenches, Depression and Faith | 3 comments

Nothing is more comforting than the gospel of Jesus Christ. According to several respected authors, the key to enjoying and celebrating that gospel is preaching it to ourselves.

Preaching the gospel to ourselves is a spiritual discipline that is both proactive and reactive. It’s reactive as we encounter temptation and frustration and seek to restock in the moment, or as we reflect back on our sin and circumstances and try to evaluate them with a gospel lens. But it’s also proactive, going on the offense, when we feed our souls in some regular rhythm before the events, tasks and disappointments of daily life begin streaming our way. The Scriptures provide the inerrant material for preaching to ourselves the gospel of grace. They are the counter to be taken up and applied to our lives in view of Jesus’ person and work.                     Paul Tripp

When you set yourself to seriously pursue holiness, you will begin to realize what an awful sinner you are. And if you are not firmly rooted in the gospel and have not learned to preach it to yourself every day, you will soon become discouraged and will slack off in your pursuit of holiness.                     Jerry Bridges

“Why are you cast down O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God” (Psalm 42:11). We must learn to fight despondency, a downcast spirit. The fight is a fight of faith in future grace. It is fought by preaching truth to ourselves about God and his promised future. This is what the psalmist does in Psalm 42. He preaches to his troubled soul. And his main argument is future grace: “Hope in God! Trust what God will be and do for you in the future. A day of praise is coming.”  John Piper


Important Questions

Why do multiple, well-respected  authors tell readers to “preach the gospel to yourself” every day?

We know we’re forgiven, that Jesus died for our sins. But deep down, how should this gospel of grace affect how we think, what we feel and how we act?

When we aren’t living in light of God’s astonishing grace, why does obedience, or growth in holiness, decline?

What keeps our knowledge of the cross, as well as its practical implications, from seeping into our attitudes and behavior toward God, ourselves and others?

What does it look and feel like when we are living in terms of a “law” mindset, rather than exulting in God’s incredible grace?

Allow me to introduce to you a resource that addresses those questions. Poring over this book’s content will add to your treasure trove of biblical truth that will prepare you to preach to yourself more effectively.


Cross Comforts

If any of the previous questions resonate with you, purchase and digest a devotional book by Elyse Fitzpatrick: Comforts of the Cross: Celebrating the Gospel One Day At A Time  (Crossway)Elyse earned a masters degree in biblical counseling, has authored over 25 books and demonstrates a deep grasp of God’s truth and its implications for our spiritual formation. Though the format encourages a single reading each day for 31 days, the material spoke to me with such intensity that on several occasions I read two or three chapters at one sitting. All chapters are three to four pages long.

Though every Christ-follower will find the content pertinent to his or her pilgrimage, this book teems with special significance for those of us prone to depression. A descent into a depressive episode typically includes negative thinking and self-condemnation, based on morbid introspection of our perceived anemic performance. In my experience, as well as my observation of others caught in the vise grip of depression, living in light of God’s grace is more difficult due to the despair and hopelessness that accompany depression.

Perhaps the best way to preview book content is to offer selected quotes.


Enticing Excerpts

Let me encourage you to proclaim the gospel to yourself every day. Our poor, burdened hearts are in such need of a gospel celebration. When you fail today, you need the comfort of this proclamation: Jesus died for that very sin. Tell yourself about his death. When you feel overwhelmed by your responsibilities, remember that he is ruling sovereignly over every facet of your life, and soon he will return to right every wrong and relieve you of your trouble. Celebrate! “I’m forgiven; he’s paid the penalty for all my sin!”

Do you believe that if you belong to Christ, there is no divine wrath left for you? That once you are God’s, it is impossible for you to receive his judgment? Do you believe that the darkness of your sin will never be powerful enough to snuff out the light of his grace? Do you understand that all he requires of you is to believe this truth? A life of godliness is impossible without an awareness of lavish grace. God’s wrath is the result of breaking the law, and as a Christian, the law no longer applies to you. You are no longer under obligation to obey the law as a way of earning favor with God, because every demand of the law has been satisfied in Jesus Christ. His frown has been replaced by a smile.

It’s only a responsive love for Jesus, and all he has done for you personally that will cause godly fruit to be born in your life. It is only responsive love for God in light of what he’s done that will engender joyful obedience. It is grace, not law, that enables me to put to death my sinful nature. If you belong to Jesus today, your enemy has two goals: to remind you of your sin, and to accuse you continually before God. Satan takes perverse pleasure in reminding you over and over again of your failures. He does this to dishonor Jesus Christ and to make you turn your eyes on yourself in endless over-scrupulousness and introspection. He does this so you will not love your Savior, or have the faith to obey him.

Your salvation, your endless happiness, and your acceptance with him don’t depend on you. They never did. He’s done it all. Simply believe, enter in to what he has done, make yourself sit down and survey the landscape: see Bethlehem, Nazareth, Calvary, Jerusalem. Take a deep breath and let the burden go. Believe and rest. We will not be able to fight victoriously against our sins unless we fight under the banner of the gospel and thereby detach ourselves from our hedonistic plans for self-improvement. When we are captivated by the love of Christ, then our hearts are properly engaged and we are prepared for battle.

We struggle to pray for at least two reasons, both of which have their genesis in a failure to believe the gospel. First, we don’t really think we need to pray. We are confirmed in our self-sufficient blindness, convinced we are doing okay. We don’t believe we are as sinful and weak as God says we are. The second reason we have little fervor in prayer is that we are not really comfortable in God’s presence. Our guilt makes us uncomfortable with him. Prayer makes us feel like we have been called into the principal’s office, where he shakes his head and asks, “How many times have I told you….”

There is a significant difference between conviction brought about by the Spirit and self-condemnation brought about by the Accuser. Conviction of sin draws me away from myself and toward God; it frees me to repent, grants me sorrow over offending my King, and floods me with relief in knowing that his smile still rests on me. It eventuates in loving Jesus more. Paul’s words from Romans 8:1 bestow great relief on my soul: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  Self-condemnation, on the other hand, draws me down into myself and away from God. It makes me afraid and distrustful of him. It entraps me in unrelenting self-loathing and unbelief. Jesus slips from preeminence and is replaced by my shattered image of myself. Self-condemnation doesn’t make me love Jesus more, because it’s not essentially about him. It’s about me.


I’d love to hear from you after you read her book. I plan to read it again soon. I want gospel truths to seep into every pore of my being. I don’t want to keep peddling the gospel at the expense of enjoying it.





Please note: comments are closed after two weeks. You are welcome to contact me directly after that time if you would like to share your thoughts.


  1. Hi Terry,

    Thanks for the book referral. Looks like one I need to read. I’m hoping it will help me get out of this muck and mire. Been here too long this time around. God bless you for sharing.

    • It will have to go on my TBR list as I just purchased Wendy Alsup’s, “Companions in Suffering: Comfort for Times of Loss and Loneliness” as well as Tim Challies’ new book, “Seasons of Sorrow: The Pain of Loss and the Comfort of God”.

      Sometimes I stay away from this topic of writing as I’m concerned that it just keeps the dark clouds at the forefront of my thoughts. But then I realize that I so need the encouragement and to read about how others moved through the difficulties of despair and depression.

      Do hope you are well and feeling God’s love surrounding you. You are a blessing to many. Thanks again!

    • Thanks Jo! I really like Seasons of Sorrow and think that every believer should get Tim’s daily posts. Keep on living strong, Jo!


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