It is Okay to Struggle

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Sometimes during Communion, I get to look around and I see hurt people. I see people struggling so badly that I can hear the thoughts running through their minds. Though many of the issues are different, the question is always the same: “Can a Christian possibly feel the way I do?”

If I knew you well enough, I would put my arms around you and whisper these words: “It is okay to struggle, that is what Jesus is for.”

Bring your doubt, your fear, your temptation, your addiction, your weakness, your anger, your depression and your despair and put it all on him. He was confident, brave, sinless, strong, composed and hopeful for you. He was punished for your sin, guilt and shame. So carry it no longer.

But one of you will say, “I can’t be a Christian. I am filled with doubt. A Christian must have faith and I don’t.” Bring your doubt to Jesus. Bundle it up and confess, “I believe, help my unbelief.” He did not die for the confident and self-assured. He came for the weak. Let his faith carry you. (1 Corinthians 1:26-31)

Another will say, “But I am too depressed. A Christian should feel hope.” You are looking in the wrong direction. You want to find something inside of you that will give you confidence. Look outside of yourself, and look to Jesus instead. He does not only welcome the optimistic. He is fully aware that Christians must walk through deep darkness. He promises to be there with you. Let your depression bring you to Christ instead of driving you away.

Someone will silently cry, “But I’m gay and there is no way a Christian can struggle with that.” Why would you say that? I read in the Bible that Jesus knew every temptation common to man (Hebrews 4:15). It is okay to struggle.

Adding the extra burden of guilt and shame to the struggle over your sexual orientation is only going to make you more likely to give up. Bring your struggle to Jesus, and let him carry the guilt and shame. Let him wrap you in the cloak of his love and open acceptance. Let that love empower you to courageously struggle with temptation without giving in.

Finally someone will silently think, “I’ve prayed for years that God would take away these temptations, yet he has never helped.” You are tired and ready to give up the fight.

Here is a thought that may not have occurred to you. Maybe God prefers you weak. Maybe God has left that temptation with you to keep you close to him. Would you keep coming to Christ in humble petition if you did not have that thorn in your flesh?

God is not nearly as interested in our strength and perfection as we are. He reveals the beauty and strength of Christ in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:8-10).

You beg God to take away the temptation, and he answers, “No, I like you better with it. Without it, you would be so self-assured that I would seldom see you. You would fall into the much greater sins of pride, self-righteousness and independence. This weakness has kept you close to me, and close to me is the only safe place for you to walk.”

So keep coming to worship with your doubts, struggles, shame and sin. Keep laying all of them down at Jesus’ feet. Keep taking his body and blood at the table. There you find life, not in yourself but in another.

Let Christ be your glory, your confidence and your hope. Let him be your life. In him you will never be disappointed.

2 Comments

Here the temptation is to try and find something IN YOURSELF that commends you to God - YOUR victory over depression/ guilt/ anger/ lust or whatever other besetting sin it maybe. Dress it up by saying it is "God's strength", but it is little more than Roman Catholic penance. As a Christian is `in Christ`, so is his victory, not in themselves.

Just listened to the TED talk on vulnerability.....great talk and insights but she ends with "I am enough." Thank God that He is enough so I don't have to be.

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