It’s not peculiar that we humans are reassured by knowing we’re not the only ones going through something. The Internet –in which people are able, at least for now, to express themselves beyond writing a newspaper Letter to the Editor — has done much in recent years to encourage people who otherwise have thought that they were weird.
We’re not weird — other people have questions, doubts, misgivings, and concerns about all sorts of other things — our government, our educational institutions, our medical establishment, our judicial system, our coldly calculating corporate society, and, certainly not least, our religious arena. (Regarding the latter, it is because people are able to readily and ably connect with others who propound similar questions that we are seeing a distinct exodus from the systematized, syndicated church establishment. Many of the people leaving are committed Christians who are waking up, realizing that the dissatisfaction they are feeling is not necessarily because they are difficult, obstreperous, and spiritually cold.)
Within our walk as Christians, it is easy to get the sense that we are alone in our problems, and when deep, aching prayers appear to go unanswered and unheard, we blame ourselves because, well, those around us do:
“You don’t have enough faith,” is the frequent observation, so tiresomely predictable that we should make T-shirts out of it and pass them out to all the Christians in our lives.
“We’re not honest with ourselves,” would be a better slogan, not one to further castigate us for our lack of perfection, but to free us from the misconception that good, successful Christians never cry out, never get frustrated, never despair, and always get what they ask for from God because He is pleased with them. Such is the foundation upon which the Prosperity Doctrine is built, but the worship of money, and power, seeps into all our lives, and even when we think we’re not pursuing a lie, we spend a lot of time focusing on it.
“You hem me in — behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me,” the Psalmist says in 139:5. This is not a declaration or claim or announcement of mighty faith as it is an observation — quite realistically born out of frustration — that the writer’s movements are severely circumscribed. If we put it into the common tongue — “God. Nothing is happening. I’m not going anywhere” — we would immediately be admonished,
“That’s negative speaking. If you talk that way, how can you expect God to answer your prayers?”
“Hear my prayer, O Lord, listen to my cry for help: be not deaf to my weeping,” Psalm 39:12 says, with the implication that the prayer has been uttered more than once, and the person praying it feels that it has not been heard. “Why, O Lord, do you reject me and hide your face from me?” Psalm 88:14 is candidly direct.
Isaiah 38:11-14 gives a series of visual images — “No longer will I look on mankind or be with those who now dwell in this world . . Like a weaver I have rolled up my life and he has cut me off from the loom . . . day and night you made an end of me” — that can, and should encourage us that even those whom we think the most godly experience discouragement, and a loss of confidence in the only Person who can help them.
And what about the great prophet Elijah, who in 1 Kings 19 is so overwhelmed by the threats of Jezebel and the evil of the Israelite community, that he prayed,
“I have had enough, Lord. Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.”
None of this is positive talk, and therefore, by 21st century establishment Christianity standards, should not be expressed — and it frequently isn’t because we’re smart enough to read a room, not requiring much time with the group before we figure out that this kind of talk makes others uncomfortable. Honesty generally does.
And honesty is what God wants from His children. It is what is expressed in the Psalms, it is brutally exposed in the very history recorded in the Bible — even the Greats, the ones whose names we know, experienced fear, doubt, anxiety, worry, discomfiture and dismay.
The exhibition of these very human emotions did not result in God throwing up His hands in frustration and storming out of the room, and He will not do so with us, His children who are free to come to Him in all honesty, vulnerability, and need. We are not alone in our frustration, doubt, impatience, anxiety, and urgent desire that God do something, NOW, and we do not need to let the fear of this stop us from going, with confidence, to the Only Person who can take all that garbage, toss it to the side, and help us.
This article is linked to The Deliberate Mom. A Little R and R, Arabah Joy, Rebecca, Christian Mom Blogger, Create with Joy, 3D Lessons, hearts for home, Tell It Tuesdays, Missional Woman, Mom to Mom, Soul Survival, I choose joy, Embracing, Imparting Grace, Look at the Book, Simple Moments, Intention, Wholehearted Home, Woman to Woman
I’m thinking of buying Mr. Hendersons watercolor video. Here is the problem. I’ve never held a brush in my hand, I’m a true beginner! Would this video teach me to paint with watercolor or is it for artist that have some experience with this medium? Heidi Crislip
Hello, Heidi — Steve designed the DVD for beginning to intermediate students, and accompanying the DVD are drawings to use as references for the paintings, as well as a complete list of supplies (this is sent to you when you e-mail Steve after purchase of the product — the e-mail address is on the DVD). I am appending a link to Steve’s free youtube video that gives you an overview of the DVD and what it covers — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8le3YxHcyks
These are some very valid points. God does want us to own up to our mistakes and be honest with him. He already knows everything, but until we begin to admit our own shortcomings we can’t start to make changes. You’re right he will always love us despite whatever flaws we may have.
This is the focal thing, and it affects how we go about seeking God, and working with Him in a relationship: He does not want us to obsess about our sins and beat ourselves up because we’re creepy, naughty, awful creatures that He can’t stand to look at unless His Son is blocking the way. We are His sons and daughters, and our rightful place is as Grown-Up children in our Father’s household — Jesus walked the earth to show us what this relationship looks like, and to guide us into that relationship. Jesus’s many words pointed, always, to the Father — His and ours — and the relationship between our Eldest Brother and Father is the perfect one for which we long.
But we don’t get it, because we persist in seeing our Father as a frightening person, one who will not love or accept us until we beat ourselves into a pulp at His feet and cry out, “I’m just a lousy worm. Oh, woe with me.” Our Father knows that we fall, and fail, and are not perfect, and in showing us the things that we are unwilling to face ourselves, He is taking us to the next step. How can someone with a problem, any problem, move forward until they acknowledge that the problem exists?
Yet within the conventional Christian world, this is where it stops: “I have a PROBLEM. God is angry with me because I have this PROBLEM and I must solve it (with Him, of course, somehow) before He will bless me and love me.” Any human parent who operated under those standards (and some do), would be called inept, because the way to bring a child to growth is not through constantly pushing him down and reminding him how little that he knows. It is through wise guidance, and the more we learn about God — His unconditional love for His children and His desire that we walk closely with Him in a relationship that looks like the Son and the Father — the more we can trust in His truly caring about us.
Thank you so much for sharing this post! Seeing those types of verses written collectively encourages and reminds me to come to the Father with all my thoughts and feelings. How much more in my relationship as a child of the Living God.
I am glad, Karen. You know, I have been a Christian for more than 30 years, and it is only in the last few that I am truly finding what I set out to look for so many years ago — unconditional acceptance, love that has no boundaries, mercy, and true, true, grace.
Thank you for this lovely reminder that we’re not alone in our sorrow or frustration.
This message felt so timely for me. I have been praying for the last 6 months for the healing of my daughter’s anaphylaxis dairy allergy. Yesterday we went in for the challenge test and she got sick. I was so grieved… so disappointed. I heard the whispers of condemnation. I didn’t pray enough. I lack. I’m not Christian enough. It was a painful afternoon. However, after more prayer I knew those were lies. God knows what is best for my daughter and for us as a family. I need to continue to trust in Him.
Thanks for sharing and for linking up to the #SHINEbloghop.
Wishing you a lovely evening.
Oh, Jennifer — my heart grieves for your pain. It is enough for you to love and ache for your daughter, to long for her to be free from a hurting situation — you do not, at all, need any sense of condemnation that this is, somehow, your fault!
The pain that you both go through goes deep, it changes you, it deepens you — that’s what pain does to all of us. We can choose to get angry about it, or we can, as you are, hand it to God and say, “Oh, Father. This hurts. This hurts. Comfort me.”
We long for an answer that fits what we so, so want, and our Father knows this. He knows your disappointment, He knows your dreams, He knows your love. He knows what others say behind your back, and He simply draws closer to your side.
It is impossible to be “Christian enough,” because being a Christian simply means being a daughter or son in our Father’s home. That’s just what we ARE — it is not what we make ourselves to be. It’s like saying, “I am not daughter enough to my parents.” You’re their daughter, period. It is a position you hold, an honored one, in the hearts of others. It is a position you — and your beautiful daughter — hold, an honored one, in our Father’s home.
I pray for you in your disappointment, for your grieved hopes, for your confusion, for the flickering light that longs to have faith for this situation but isn’t sure what that faith looks like, real time. And I pray for rich, rich blessings of unconditional love, flowing through like a clear stream, through your home.
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