When it comes to my walk with God, most of my doubts and spiritual struggles come down to the question "Am I really believing that God is who he says he is?" This question seems to come up again and again as I struggle through the ups and downs of life.
Someone asked me yesterday if I had any resolutions for the new year. I hesitated a bit before I told them "no." But, I told them, it’s not because I haven’t thought about it.
Grief can feel exceptionally heavy and lonely. It can lead us to cry out in confusion, "God, where are you?" It can feel natural, and oftentimes easier, to follow this spiral of despair. But it's here that we must turn our lament heavenward.
I've found myself lately needing to go back to the basics. To be reminded of the truths of the Gospel. So often I talk about the Gospel, I act like I know the Gospel and live in light of the Gospel, but how often do I actively rehearse the truths that I know about God and his grace? How often do I remind myself of who I was, what Christ has done for me, and who I am now?
In fall the aspens' tiny leaves turn an unbelievably brilliant yellow, fluttering like a thousand little coins. Stripes of gold and orange flash by the window as you drive. Splotches of yellow splashed across the sides of mountains, making the mountainside look like it’s on fire. I've always loved the changing of seasons; the shift in temperature signaling that something new is coming.
Am I the only one who has a hard time accepting it when God says "no" to me? Am I the only one who grits my teeth in frustration when God's response to my prayer for a good thing is "wait"? Am I the only one who feels forgotten by God when something hard happens in my life?
In a way that I can only attribute to the power and sanctifying work of the Spirit, my faith has become less blind understanding, less knowledge of seminary-ingrained truths, and more real, concrete, deeply-rooted-in-my-soul knowledge of God.
As I consider my own treasured desires and dreams, my heart longs for God to tell me that I can keep them. That I can wrap them up in my hands and hold them tightly. That I can count on the assurance that these hopes will come to pass, that these gifts will stay in my hands forever…
But is that ever promised?
Has God promised to keep me safe? To keep my reputation clear and untarnished? Has he promised me children and a home and financial stability? To make my hopes and dreams come to fruition?
2018 was such a difficult year.
But I can’t help but point to God as the good and faithful author of a story that I would never have wanted to play a part in unless he had written me into it.
As we were walking (or maybe I should say limping) through 2018, I found myself frustrated as I doubted God's character time and time again.
Was he really good?
Was he faithful if he walked us through difficult seasons?
Sometimes it is so hard to follow and love You in the midst of a broken world and a broken me.
Sometimes I think life would be easier if I didn’t have to feel the pain of a world and people without You.
Sometimes I think life would be easier if I didn't realize the extent of my own sin.
We serve a God who is in the business of redeeming every single painful and heartbreaking moment for a grand and glorious and eternal purpose.
And what a beautiful thing it is to be able to trust in the fruit that He is growing in us because of this light and momentary suffering.
It seems that it is more difficult for me to praise God when I don’t have an abundance of good things happening in my life. My mind does not often go to thanksgiving when I don’t see all those little (and big) things to be thankful for.
Do you ever have those days when everything seems to be crumbling? When things are just falling apart left and right and you don’t have the strength to hold it together anymore? When it seems like everything is just too much and you want to give up?
My tendency when I approach Scripture is so often what can I get out of this? How can I apply this? How does this relate to me? While those are questions that sometimes (and often should) come out of our study of the Word, those should never be our initial questions. The Bible was not first and foremost written as a guidebook for our lives or an encouraging balm for our souls. No, the Bible is God’s divine and gracious revelation of His character and works to His people.
Why do the righteous suffer? Is all suffering for the sake of God? How do we reconcile the fact that God is good and God is sovereign with the fact that there is evil in the world? Does God somehow ordain evil and suffering? Why do the plans of the wicked prosper?