Sometimes when we follow Jesus, He asks very difficult things of us. Take the apostle Paul for example. In our comfortable 21st century existence, the kind of hardships Paul endured are less than appealing. Even if we don’t face physical persecution, emotional upheavals can leave us in a place where we find ourselves struggling to believe God and His promises.
The fact is we are often unaware how much our life experience colors our understanding of God and His word. If we are carrying emotional scars from a difficult past, it may be next to impossible to believe that God is loving, that He welcomes us, that He delights in us, that He will never leave us or forsake us or any of the other amazing promises He makes. We may grudgingly concede that the promises are true for others, but we balk when it comes to believing they are for us.
We can’t undo the past, or erase those scars. So how do we embrace those truths?
Admit there is a struggle.
One of my favorite statements in Scripture addresses this. It’s in Mark 9:24. A desperate father came to Christ seeking healing for his son. You can almost hear the anguish in his voice when he says “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief!” He doesn’t fake. He doesn’t give the Sunday school answer. He is very humble and very genuine.
Realize the struggle is not a deal-breaker.
In fact, it’s common. In Scripture, we read about people like John the Baptist, Job, Paul, Moses, Elijah, Sarah, and so many others who had trouble grasping God’s promises. After Jesus’s resurrection, Peter went back to fishing. Maybe he thought he’d blown his chance to do great things because he failed so miserably in his denials. Maybe he thought something like “Jesus, I believe you can save me. I’m just not sure you can use me.” One word, Peter. Pentecost.
Finally, understand it takes time.
For something this critical, God won’t stand for any easy fixes. He is willing to take the time to ensure we “get” it. We will be forever changed afterward. In Scripture, folks came away from their struggles with new names, new callings, and on one occasion even a new limp, but all of those signified a fresh intimacy with Yahweh.
What have you struggled to believe? How did you work (or how are you working) to grab hold of it?