Struggling With Faith

Posted: March 12, 2009 in faith, life

faith1I’ve been talking about a lot of fairly light and happy things lately.  I have had a lot of good times lately with family and friends, despite some difficulties along the way.  This morning though I’m really struggling.  I’m not struggling with a belief in God, but instead with what I believe about God really means.

Every person has different personality traits that tend to make them struggle more with some things in life than others do, and conversely more easily deal with some things than others do.  My biggest achilles heal that rears its head from time to time is a struggle with anxiety.  I go through periods once or twice a year where seemingly innocuous things send me into a struggle with anxiety that is difficult to deal with.  Strangely enough, I never really took a lot of time to try to sort out why it is that I struggle with this until the past few days.  Instead, I would just tell myself to relax and stop worrying, and just have faith that God will take care of me because he loves me.  After really thinking about it though, I’ve found that I think the root of my anxiety comes from my faith not in spite of it.

I firmly believe that God loves me.  He’s promised that he work towards doing what’s best for me despite what I think is best for me because he knows and understands life and the big picture better than I can with my finite mind.  He’s also promised that life will involve pain and difficulties that he will use to make me a more complete person in his image.  My job is just to accept what he wants for me as best and to work towards it.  This is where my struggle is coming from.

I enjoy my life.  I love my wife, my son, my parents, my brother and my inlaws and my friends.  Life has so many things that I enjoy.  What if God’s “best” for me involves suffering a terrible/fatal illness at a young age?  What if making me into his image involves repeated failures in ministry to teach me perseverance?  What if making the big picture turn out for the best involves me struggling with constant difficulty and pain?  My problem isn’t that I don’t trust God is in control, my biggest struggle is that I do believe God is in control and that he will do whatever is necessary to make things turn out the way they should in the end.  I guess sometimes I feel like I’m more of a tool in his cellestial tool kit that he’ll use to get the job done as it needs to be when I want to feel more like what I want matters and not just what’s best for me matters.

I’m not losing faith at all through this.  I know God exists and that he’s alive and active in the world I live in and in my life directly.  My struggle is how to just relax and expect “life to the full” when he’s promised that if anything, life will be difficult.  What do I do with this?  What do you do with this?  If I’m wrong about anything that I’ve posited here or if I’m misunderstanding anything please set me straight, because right now I’m really struggling because of my faith.

  1. So I also face these times of uncertainty (check out my most recent blog post), even though I have pledged my life (and my certainty) to my Savior. I recently spent some time studying John 5. I received some insight so I’ll pass it on to you.

    In this passage Jesus has an encounter with a career invalid (38 years). Jesus asks this man a seemingly rhetorical question, “Do you want to get well.” Surprisingly, the man responds by basically saying, “It’s not MY fault I’m still here!” He takes no responsibility for his life and is convinced that he is totally a victim of his circumstances. Understandable, but not really a life-affirming attitude.

    Jesus changes the man’s circumstances radically. The first thing that happens to the man is that he runs afoul of the local Jewish leaders who chastise him for breaking the Sabbath. The man’s response is again to deny his responsibility and lay the blame on others. “The man who made me well said to me, “Pick up your mat and walk.”” This man had his circumstances radically altered by The Living God and he was not changed in his basic attitude towards his life. Well or infirm, his circumstances dictated his actions and in either case he was not living life but merely reacting to it – and not in a way that glorified God, or even acknowledged Him.

    As the narrative continues this man goes on to have what he probably came to regard as one of the worst days of his life as Jesus shows up later and rebukes him for continuing to sin. Because of his attitude, his healing had become a problem.

    What became obvious to me through this narrative is that any circumstance can be viewed as being a cross to bear. Health or ill health – it’s all a matter of perspective and some of that comes down to faith. Circumstances are nothing. They can change in a moment. What matters is the state of our heart towards God and through that towards others.

    This explains why some people I have encountered who have faced horrible circumstances have been able to continue to praise God, trust Him and walk by faith. They have learned what Paul talks about in Philippians 4:10-12.

    I, too like the things God has given me. I, too am unsure how I would react if I lost my voice and could no longer preach, or lost my legs and could no longer walk. But I have hope in Christ that He would help me rise above my circumstances.

    My brother-in-law became a quadriplegic after a fall when building a house. He went on to reinvent himself in his career and personal life, including competing in the special Olympics. When he died, four of his best friends testified in their eulogy to him that it was Peter’s faith that most affected them and influenced them. Peter’s cross became a source of truth and freedom for others – just like the cross of Jesus.

    I don’t think God needs tools for His “celestial toolkit”. But I do believe He wants willing servants who will follow Him wherever He leads them.

    I know you Benyamen, and I know your heart wants to follow. I think you are closer to the faith you seek than you might know. I trust that God will give you the opportunity to realize that truth and see how it will set you free.

    When God tested Abraham’s faith by asking him to sacrifice Isaac, it wasn’t because God needed Abraham to demonstrate his obedience. God would have already known that Abraham would obey. Abraham has spent his whole life following God with his fingers crossed behind his back. Saying “Yes I trust you.” But hedging his bets by ensuring his physical wealth was kept intact (by taking everything INCLUDING the kitchen sink with him when God asked him to follow Him to a new land), lying (when he lied about who Sarah was to the Egyptian King) and taking matters into his own hands (by fathering Ishmael through Hagar). It wasn’t God who needed to know that something had changed in Abraham, this was something Abraham himself needed to have shown to him.

    I don’t believe that God sets us up to fail. I believe we fail when we don’t trust that God is in control.

    I hope you find these thoughts useful.



  2. Joan says:

    Not sure how I got here, but very much led of God to this page. Thank you for sharing/


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