There seems to be a repeating trend in my life. I first become spiritually aware of God’s presence and will for my life, and am suddenly aware of the changes i need to make. I am quick to do whatever it takes to be obedient. I make the call, I pay off the bill, or I move my family far away from home. This is not at all easy, but is the easiest step in the process.
And then it happens. I am hit hard by fears, doubts, lack of motivation, and suddenly the option of retreat becomes easy and accessible. “The people around me would understand,” I tell myself. “Did God really say…?” becomes the thought I find myself unable to set aside.
Then, the reality of feelings set in. I do not feel the same enthusiasm as I did when God was prompting me to be obedient. It seems like God, who had been so faithful to open those doors and guide me down this specific path, has set me aside, and the residual emotions that come with that flow into my spirit. Emptiness. Weariness. Loss of motivation. Excuses.
Hebrews 10:32 comes to mind. “But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings.”
I look inward, at myself, to see where I went wrong. I seek to answer my own thirst for answers. I come up with some pretty terrible answers.
“You are more weak than most people.” “You will never overcome those struggles.” “You will fall away from God. It’s happened before, and you surely are prone to it.”
Yup, you read it right. Those are the things that I think. If you are squeamish about talking about your own spirituality, then read no further. The enemy, Satan, has come to steal, kill, and destroy. But Jesus has come so that we may have life, and have it abundantly (John 10:10). Whatever your vice is, you can count on the enemy reminding you of it, how it’s affected your past, and the threat of it coming back to haunt you.
There are a number of solutions people are eager to shout out at you. “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away” is one. “Try it for a little while, then if you need to make some changes, do so,” is another. “God will give you peace about this if it’s really His will.” “Try harder” is my favorite.
While none of these are bad philosophies, it’s important to look at the truth. Did God direct me here? Stop and remember what took place to affirm this direction. Write it out. Bring to mind all the supernatural and unexplainable events that took place along the way. The Israelites were guided by a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of smoke by day, yet they still did not believe that God was with them (Exodus 13:21).
Was God with you at the beginning? Definitely He was! Was God with you when you encountered these struggles? I can assure you that He was with you, my friend, and that He has not changed His mind about you.
Take a look at this part of Hebrews. Verse 32 says, “But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings.” Skip down to verses 35 through 39.
“Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For,
‘Yet a little while,
and the coming one will come and will not delay;
but my righteous one shall live by faith,
and if he shrinks back,
My soul has no pleasure in him.’
But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.”
In this time of trial, we do have need of endurance, but that endurance is not going to be something that comes easily. Faith is essentially the right belief plus the right behavior. So to live by faith means to believe what God says, and then behave in a manner consistent with that belief. So, for example, if I believe that God wants me to work at my job, yet I am feeling defeated, guilty and condemned, then despite my feelings, I will wake up in the morning and get out of bed and go to work. I don’t have to feel great about it, all I have to do is put that belief into action. But there is another option. I can have faith in something that is not what God said. If I wake up in the morning, and believe that I am defeated and condemned, I have the choice to put my faith in that belief. My actions will tell you what I believe in. By not going to work, I am putting faith in the belief that I am defeated and condemned.
So next time you are struggling with a decision, keep in mind how you got to that point. If God has been with you on this journey, then has not abandoned you, no matter what the circumstances convey. Some questions you can ask yourself are:
- What did God do to bring me to this point? Ask God to remind you how you got this far.
- Who does God say I am? If you need a reminder, copy and paste in your web browser: http://www.joycemeyer.org/
- Are my feelings or circumstances blinding the truth of who God says I am
- Based on my answer to question three, am I in need of endurance?
Remember that God gave us feelings and senses to process the world around us. They are not bad, because God gave them to us when He created us! However, defeat, hopelessness, and emptiness are not what God has promised us. One indicator that you are in need of endurance is that you realize that you cannot do it by yourself. You need Jesus to fight for you!
My prayer is that we all strengthen our understanding of who God says we are, not so that we can perform better, but so we are in right relationship with God, unashamed and unhindered, as sons and daughters of God.
My husband and I were planning to lead a group of ten young men and women to Nepal on a missions trip in 2011. The students were in charge of raising their own support for plane tickets and living expenses. Some of the students had not raised enough money by the day before we were scheduled to depart. Our first daughter Iris was five months old and we going to bring her with us. At the time, we had amazing leaders who were sending us out, yet they were wondering if we would change our minds about going to Nepal with a baby and ten young people. At one point, I remember thinking and feeling that Josh and I should not go, because why would I risk my new baby’s safety going out of the country? All kinds of setbacks were happening. On the night before we left, around midnight, all our student’s money came in, praise God! Our outreach was successful. We saw people come to Christ, plant churches, get healed, and one of our students met her future husband in Nepal! And I remember what I felt like when I wanted to go home to my comfort and family. Had I placed my faith in that fear of danger, I probably would have been safe and warm back at home, but we would have never got to be a part of what God was doing in Nepal.
Do you believe that He will give you that endurance? Or do you believe that He will not? The answer to that question will indicate where you have placed your faith. What action does God want you to take?
I’d love to hear your comments!
By: Susan Kurtz
220 Student Youth Counselor