By Will Dole
Keeping a journal can be a great help to remember how God has been faithful in our lives. Recently, I looked back at a page I wrote during a long, difficult journey in my life, and I was struck by the way my words captured my heart-felt struggles.
“What is my problem? Constantly searching…constantly confused. I know God has a plan, all I have to do is trust Him…but I seem incapable of that. Why is it, that although I know what my problems are, I still fail? Time and time again I stumble. I even know how to “fix” my problems…but I don’t. I keep on going along my merry way screwing up my life, complicating things for those I love. It’s like I’m in a constant state of stupid. Why? Is it lack of faith? Will power? Character? What is the root of my problem? I know that it all boils down to that fact that I’m a sinner…but there has to be something more specific. Something I can work on, train myself away from. What is it? I’m so sick of myself.”
Does any of that sound familiar? Struggles vary from person to person—each of us has our own history, our own character flaws, our own sin issues, but what we have in common is the fact that we all struggle with our faith sometimes. At times we are overwhelmed by our circumstances and start to question where God is. It’s not always easy to see His purpose in our lives. In fact, sometimes we simply can’t make sense of the things we go through, or the pain we cause ourselves.
Sometimes, it seems like God could make things so much easier by making us perfect as soon as we are saved. But then, how would we see His grace? We may wish we didn’t need His grace, yet we continue to be the objects of it, and through His grace, we experience the joy of belonging to Him, even though we continue to sin.
Sometimes we may wonder why—no matter how hard we may try—we can not fix ourselves. But this is not really the question we should be asking. Trying to answer that question can leave us up burned out, emotionally drained, or even disenchanted with our loving God.
The Bible doesn’t tell us to fix ourselves. Rather it asks us to repeatedly acknowledge that we are sinners. Romans 3:11 explains, “There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God.” So, we see that not only do we fail to understand, but we don’t even have the capacity to seek after the only cure: Jesus. Why would we think we could improve ourselves, if we don’t understand the magnitude of our sin, nor where to go to for help? Fortunately, because of Christ’s death, God has entered into a Father/son relationship with us. If He had waited to do this until we became more perfect or less of a sinner, it never would have happened.
God’s grace is much greater than we can possibly grasp. We will never be able to fully comprehend it, but until we accept by faith the truth about His grace revealed to us in Scripture, we will not only be frustrated, but our “good works, which we were created to do in Christ” (Ephesians 2:10), will be only ineffective efforts.
We generally understand that God’s grace is the means by which we are saved, (Ephesians 2:8), but to truly understand grace and its impact on our daily lives, it is helpful to compare this with 2 Corinthians 12:9, “And He said to me ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
This verse makes it clear that our problem is not that we are screwed up, or that we continue to return to our old sinful ways; our problem is that we are sinners without the power to redeem ourselves.
This makes our plight sound ominous, but it’s not. Jesus took care of our problem completely and totally on the cross, and therefore as we trust in His redeeming work, our problem is no longer a problem at all. In fact, Paul says that in our weakness the power of Christ rests upon us. So the focus is no longer on us, or what we have to offer other people. It’s not even on what we think we have to offer God, which in reality is nothing. No, it’s not about us at all. The focus turns to where it should be: God glorifying Himself through our lives.
We must not miss the fact that sin is evil and unwanted in our lives, but our motivation should not be so much avoiding sin and doing good deeds—which only leads to frustration when we realize we can‘t accomplish what God‘s law demands—but rather, our focus ought to be on the secure relationship with God, which we have only because of what Jesus did for us. When our focus is on our relationship with Him, we may not always live a life worthy of our calling, but we are able to enjoy and appreciate His love for us, and watch it eventually bear the fruit we were created to bear in our lives.