The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble. And He knows those who take refuge in Him.

Nahum 1:7

In 1835 a man walked into a doctor’s office in Florence, Italy. He hadn’t had a good night’s sleep in weeks. He had no appetite. He was filled with anxiety for no apparent reason. The doctor examined him and found no physical problems.

He concluded that the patient simply needed some cheering up, and he told him that he was very fortunate because the circus was in town. The feature attraction of the circus was a clown named Grimaldi. Grimaldi was magnificent, the doctor said. Every night he had people laughing until their sides ached. Go catch Grimaldi’s act, the doctor said, and you’re bound to start feeling better.

The patient, though, didn’t think that would work. “You see, doctor,” the patient said, “I am Grimaldi.”

Who hasn’t felt like Grimaldi at one time or another? We all know what it’s like to have to keep up appearances, to pretend to feel something that we don’t or to be something we’re not. So we put on a mask – a clownish one, or a comfortable-and-successful one, or a relaxed-and-in-control one. But behind the mask we’re ready to burst into flames. We hate the situation we’re in. We hate ourselves for getting into it. And we have absolutely no idea what to do next.

It’s rough to have to put on a happy face in a situation like that. So why do it? For Grimaldi, it was a matter of doing his job. Sometimes it’s the same for us – and that isn’t always a bad thing. For instance, I’m not sure that we all need to give a detailed account of how our day is going to everyone who asks us, “How are you doing?” The solution isn’t for each of us to overshare at every opportunity.

But still, wouldn’t it be nice to have a friend with whom no masks were ever necessary – someone, in fact, who forbade them in his presence? A friend you could count on to accept you exactly as you are – and not be shocked or dismayed by what you’re thinking or feeling?

You actually do have a friend like that. Yes, you know who. But, don’t misunderstand. When what we’re thinking or feeling is sinful, we can’t expect the Lord to condone it. But he still wants to hear about it. All of it. And then, he wants you to hear that, in spite of it, he loves you. Accepts you. And has removed every one of your sins, every obstacle to you remaining his good friend, by his innocent suffering and death on the cross.

Take a minute to talk to him now, in prayer. If you happen to be wearing a mask, take it off, and tell your Lord what’s really on your mind. Then, pick up his Book, the Bible, and find out what’s on his mind. You’ll be glad you did. It won’t be as amusing as a trip to the circus. But, it’s a whole lot better for what ails you. And a whole lot healthier than pretending nothing’s wrong.

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