Have you ever been deeply struggling and felt like God must surely hate your struggle?
You know you shouldn’t be discontent because you’re not married, yet you struggle so much. If you were truly mature, this wouldn’t be a struggle at all, which must mean God is unhappy with you.
Your finances are scraped thinner than tracing paper and you’re really wrestling with worry. If you had enough faith, you would always have peace. Right? So God must be frustrated with your failure.
You want to be patient but there are times when your kids are flat-out One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest insane. By the end of the day, you’re wound tighter than a piano wire ready to burst. Only a failure would be so impatient.
In those moments, a cloud of shame hangs over you. Yes, you know God is your father, but still…even he must get tired of you.
Everyone has their limits, and surely you’ve pushed God over the eternal cliff (whatever that is).
While these thoughts are understandable (I’ve had them many times myself), they’re false. They’re lies from Satan and your flesh.
There’s nothing he loves more than making you question God’s love for you.
In those moments of stumbling and stuttering through the cloud, remember these three deeply encouraging truths.
Your Struggles Aren’t Necessarily Sin
Too often, we fail to distinguish between the battle against sin and sin itself. To enter the arena and draw the sword against lust is far different than taking it on a date. It’s the difference between the soldier and the avid supporter.
To wrestle with a lack of peace is not the same as sinning in worry or unbelief. Remember, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus didn’t have peace. He wrestled and prayed until blood leaked from his pores. He asked God for a way out. In spite of the gruesome battle, Jesus never sinned.
There is clearly a difference between the “perfect peace” discussed in Jeremiah 26 and what Jesus felt in the garden.
We also fail to distinguish between weakness and sin. Some people have an incredible, Herculean capacity to serve. No matter the situation, they’ll show up with work gloves and a casserole. I don’t have that capacity. In fact, because of my battle with depression and anxiety, I’m pretty limited.
My inability to serve at times is not selfishness, even though it often feels that way. It’s weakness.
Paul makes this distinction in 1 Thessalonians 5:14 when he says:
And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.
There are those who are idle and need to be admonished for their selfishness and laziness. But there are also those who are simply faint hearted or weak. They need encouragement and help, not guilt.
When you’re struggling, take a moment to determine whether you’re actively giving in to sin or just on the wrestling mat.
The Struggle Is A Good Sign
The simple fact is that unbelievers don’t struggle with sin, they embrace it. There is no battle. They don’t give a rip about following Jesus. If there’s sin to be had, they’re all in, with whipped cream on top.
The very fact that you’re battling is a crystal clear sign that the Holy Spirit is at work in you, helping you fight for holiness. Your struggle didn’t arise out of some abstract, noble desire for morality. It came from the mighty working of the Spirit, who leads the charge into battle against sin.
If you’re grappling with your flesh, it means that you’re born again. That God has adopted you, made you his own, forgiven all your sins, and promised to conform you completely to the image of Christ. If anything, the head-to-head combat should deeply encourage you. It’s a sure sign that you have a new identity in Christ.
Which brings us to the last point.
God Delights In You, Struggle and All
My daughter, Ella, is lazy. Really lazy. So much so that she often doesn’t want to tie her shoes because, “It’s too hard.” Her ideal day involves laying around watching Netflix.
And yet this morning, I went into her room singing. Why? Because I delight in her. Because she’s my daughter. I love her with all my heart even though she’s really darn lazy.
I love her for who she is.
My love for Ella is a molecule compared to the ocean of God’s love for you. He delights in you because he made you. He sings over you because you are in Christ. He forgives you because you are bought with blood. He strengthens you because he’s promised to never leave you or forsake you.
He doesn’t tire of you. Doesn’t throw his hands in the air and say, “When are they going to get it together?”
It breaks God’s heart when you doubt his love.
Yes, you struggle.
Yes, you often find yourself face down in the muck.
This is not a surprise to God. He knows you fully and that doesn’t change his love for you.