One of the things that I’ve learned to do since going through counseling is to pay attention to the things that bother me. Lately, when I’ve had conversations with other Christians or heard sermons that leave me with the conclusion that there is a way to live a spirit filled Christian life full of peace when I do or believe the right things I’ve been getting frustrated and confused. I’m asking God to reveal the truth to me about where these negative emotions are coming from. Are these just normal Christian struggles or am I suffering from a lack of faith?
First of all, I know I have to cut myself some slack. I have come out of a recent trauma and my emotions are still healing. I am probably over sensitive to a lot of things right now, and while I need to pay attention to what bothers me, I also know that I don’t need to overreact.
However, it’s also important that I keep myself from harmful emotions like shame and guilt that have the potential to cause delay in my healing. I have found that I need constant reminders of the grace, mercy and forgiveness of God to get through day to day. I cling to these truths for dear life.
When I sit in a group of people who are not revealing to me that they are dealing with any major sins or struggles in their lives, and who are talking about how with faith we can do all things through Christ, I begin to get bombarded with self-condemning thoughts. I hear about their normal struggles to say the right things to their kids or spouses or how to deal with a barking dog in their neighbor’s yard, and I feel so out of place. I think about my own struggles and I wonder how in the world I will ever relate to normalcy. I also wonder if they are being honest.
A guest preacher at church talked last week about his struggles with being angry with God. He talked about how when he confessed this sin he found peace with God. I didn’t doubt his testimony at all. It was clear from what he said he’d seen his own sin and confessed and had found peace as a result. But then he went on to say if we don’t have peace with God we won’t have the peace of God. It seemed to indicate to me if one didn’t have peace they better check their relationship with God. I’m sure this is true, but it’s also true that the peace God gives is totally different from the peace the world gives. And with certain struggles in life, we may not feel an obvious peace while beneath our emotions we are at peace with God. I thought of my husband and daughter who struggle with anxiety and depression that lead to a definite lack of emotional peace. I know that hearing a message like that has the potential to cause them to feel guilty about not experiencing peace. To me it sounded like an easy formula for peace.
The truth is I think very little about the Christian life is easy, as a matter of fact it’s all out war. If we don’t have the weapons to fight this war there’s no way in the world we in our human strength can stand. And after all the evil I’ve seen happen, I realize how deceptive our human hearts can be. Perhaps this struggle is happening on my part, because God wants me to continue to focus on Him more than others.
But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.
Jesus didn’t trust man because He knew what was in man. I realize that my frustration is coming more from what I am hearing people say than from what God is saying. And placing my trust in another human being was exactly what got me into an idolatrous and destructive relationship. So maybe rather than question my faith, I should just say thank you to God. My confusion and frustration over the things I hear others saying is causing me to go to the one place God wants all of us to go for answers and that’s to Him.
As far as my faith goes, I’m sure I’ve got a long way to go. But I’m reminded that He is faithful even when I am faithless, so the pressure is off to manufacture faith on my own. As a matter of fact, I can’t produce it on my own. The Bible is clear that it’s a gift and nothing that I can earn.
However, I really do think it’s getting easier to trust Him, but its not because of some great strength or power I have gotten on my own, rather its the growth in the area of knowledge that He really does love me. I find myself more and more remembering the sin He delivered me from, the ever patient constant love the “Hound of Heaven” pursued me with even after I’d turned my back on Him and was worshipping His creation rather than Him. It’s being rooted and grounded in this kind of amazing love that helps me to see in His strength I really can do all things.
And therein lies the source of all that we need to live in this broken world.
So rather than beat myself up over a lack of faith or compare my own life to others, I know I just need to trust and pray that God loves me in my struggles and other Christians in their own. We are all in different places, but we are all in the same hands of a loving and sovereign God. And no matter what our struggle, we all need the same thing… To know how very much He loves us.
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.