The Struggle is Real!

fail“Frustratingly human” is not an excuse. It’s an observation of the reality of my walk with Jesus. Sometimes it is doubt when I am confronted with many difficulties. Sometimes it is anger that boils up inside of me.  Yes, in spite of spiritual desire and daily disciplines, I must go to the Lord with a humble heart to pray, “Yes, Lord, I did it again!” I am frustratingly human!  I am a work in progress and I think I am not alone.  The points of my weakness differ from yours but there are places where we all struggle to match our profession of faith with its practice. Who among us has not found himself stunned by the intensity of some temptation or even surprised by failure in himself or another?

In a book, Longing for God, the authors introduce us to John Bunyan, who wrote the classic, Pilgrim’s Progress. Bunyan’s allegory places emphasis on struggle in the spiritual journey. He made much of the grace of God throughout his life, but he never saw grace as opposed to struggle, only as opposed to earning. Christian (Bunyan’s main character) struggles through the Slough of Despond and struggles to enter the Straight Gate and struggles up the Hill of Difficulty and struggles to overcome Apollyon (the Devil). At times he stumbles and falls and he must overcome these setbacks.”

We too often confuse hypocrisy with being ‘frustratingly human.’ We try desperately for perfection and failing it in our own lives, we demand it in others. Where we see temptation and failure in our own lives, we have a context of understanding, knowing how hard we wrestle against Self and Satan. Tragically, where we see it in others, we tend to judge harshly, as if they do not struggle. Fighting the good fight of faith does not indicate hypocrisy or spiritual immaturity. It is the common experience of those who would walk with God in this world.  Hypocrisy flourishes where people deny that temptation is real or excuse their failures, covering them under layers of rationalization.

Disciple, do NOT think that you are unholy because you find the Devil roaring in your face, or the appetites of your body clamoring to be fed, or the bright lights of the world attractive! At the same time, no sincere Christian should choose to strike a compromise with the ‘world, the flesh, or the Devil’ since temptation is so common.  God’s grace IS great but He leads us into battle, not to apathetic capitalization to those things that tempt us. We are citizens of Heaven who live in alien territory.

The Word comforts and challenges us at the same time. “God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant. So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?”(Romans 5:20-6:2, NLT)

The paradox of spiritual victory is humility that receives the gift of grace found in Christ Jesus. Want to fail spectacularly? Trust yourself, your resolve, your discipline.  Abraham followed God to a strange land, full of faith, and then failed to trust Him to complete the promise and lied to save his own skin!  David walked with God intimately, writing songs of faith that still teach us to worship, and yet he choose to steal another’s man wife for himself.  Peter knew the power of the Spirit and yet, when pressed by some of his colleagues, compromised his commitment to the universal reach of the Gospel of Christ. How did these men find restoration?  By coming humbly to their God and accepting His gift of love.  He loves us even we are frustratingly human. No, He does not overlook or excuse. He comes alongside of us to offer renewal, to show us hope, to strengthen us in our commitment.  When humbly take the gift we could never earn by any amount of our own goodness, the mystery of grace and salvation becomes visible in us.

Are you in a struggle today?
Are you wondering if your experience of Christ is somehow flawed that you would have such conflicting desires?
Are you ready to compromise to try to find some peace?
Are you weary, wanting to be different, to leave the frustration of your humanity behind?

Here’s a word from the Word.  Take note of the final phrase that focuses not on you and me, but on the One in Whom we have believed. In spite of being ‘frustratingly human’ Paul declares he is not ‘ashamed.’  He is not hiding, retreating, or excusing. He is trusting!  Victory ahead! “The power of God, … has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. … I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.” (2 Timothy 1:8-12, NIV)

____________

Lord, I Need You

Lord, I come, I confess;
Bowing here, I find my rest.
Without You, I fall apart,
You’re the One that guides my heart.

Lord, I need You, oh I need You;
Ev’ry hour I need You!
My one defense, my righteousness,
Oh God how I need You!

Where sin runs deep, Your grace is more.
Where grace is found is where You are.
And where You are, Lord, I am free;
Holiness is Christ in me.
Where You are, Lord, I am free;
Holiness is Christ in me.

So teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way.
And when I cannot stand, I’ll fall on You,
Jesus, You’re my hope and stay!
And when I cannot stand, I’ll fall on You,
Jesus, You’re my hope and stay!

Christy Nockels | Daniel Carson | Jesse Reeves | Kristian Stanfill | Matt Maher
© 2011 sixsteps Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)
Sweater Weather Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)
CCLI License # 810055

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