Thursday, October 02, 2008

the struggle

I remember one of my seminary professors saying something like, "God values more the faithfulness of a Christian who is struggling, over the faithfulness of Christians whose world is 'all good.'" I think there is surely some truth in this.

We have to keep doing what is right, even when it seems all hell is pitted against us. But we will fail at times. But then we have to keep getting up back on our feet, to continue our walk of faith.

I have struggled over the years with depression. Some see easy ways out of depression; I was recently told so by a brother who is a committed and intelligent believer whom I respect, but who reminded me of one of Job's friends. I believe in ever seeking to live out God's truth from Scripture (here's just one good passage among many for any depressed person to meditate on). This book I am reading and will be rereading and referring to the rest of my life I think, is easily hands down the best I've read on depression, and in helping us see from God's word especially, what we who struggle with depression should do.

Sometimes we may not know why we struggle as we do; at other times it will be clear enough such as in a sin issue. But I accept struggle as a part of living in this life. We struggle due to weaknesses because of a number of factors. Sin has been mentioned and who doesn't struggle with that from time to time, perhaps over a wrong attitude, or over temptations that come our way, or over the impact sin has in our lives when we give into it. Repentance and faith in confession to God is important here. As well as proper confession to another or others.

And there are other factors, such as learned ways of thinking about ourselves which need to be unlearned. We easily gravitate to the old life in Adam, even for us who are in Christ in the new way of life. We have to unlearn the old and learn to live in the new in Jesus. And "the flesh" as that which represents this old way of life found in the world and fanned into flame by the devil, is a factor as well. We who are in the Spirit and not in the flesh are to thus walk by the Spirit.

Physical factors in this fallen world can affect us as well, as we know. In extreme cases medication can help (you can tell I'm not a fan of meds, but they have their place, I believe). And personality. I look at some people who seem to be effervescent most all the time, while others are quiet and seem placid to the point of what might seem to border on boredom. We have to be careful not to expect others to simply line up where we do, nor should we expect to line up easily where we think others are (and God knows each heart). We do need to share our struggles with God and with trusted friends who can pray, listen and encourage and speak helpful words in season.

Just some scattered words on struggling. So much more to say on this, and I've only looked at just a small part of what struggle might be, and really only a small part of that.

What might you like to add here on this?

13 comments:

preacherman said...

I think that the struggle for me is many Christians want to ignore depression or treat those who suffer aren't as "Christian" or don't have "Faith". The health and wealth gospel also feeds this mentality. I am thankful for the passage your mentioned and other passages that I can turn to meditate on and wonderful books to read. I have had a few friends like Job's friends. I am thankful that my wife isn't like his. :-) Thank you Ted for dealing with this subject. Wonderful points.

yipeng said...

I think oswald chambers puts it well...

"We have all experienced times of exaltation on the mountain, when we have seen things from God’s perspective and have wanted to stay there. But God will never allow us to stay there. The true test of our spiritual life is in exhibiting the power to descend from the mountain. If we only have the power to go up, something is wrong. It is a wonderful thing to be on the mountain with God, but a person only gets there so that he may later go down and lift up the demon-possessed people in the valley (see Mark 9:14-18 )."

...spoke to me :)

Jennifer L. Griffith said...

Living for Him and trusting in Him at the most trying times speaks volumes to those God places across our path BECAUSE of our struggles. The great thing is, God uses it all. It's up to us to keep our lives in His perspective, in His purpose, in His Light.

Lifting you up, all for the glory of God.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Kinney, You sound like me in a number of ways, except you suffer as much in physical pain and I don't. I'm thankful too, for a supportive, loving wife.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Yipeng,

Thanks. Oswald Chambers wrote many good things. I do think for many it's not a question of being high and low, not really so for me. But it's a matter of being in a dark valley, or "the dark night of the soul" for extended periods of time. And in a sense for some, over long periods, with just some small oases here and there.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Jennifer,
Good points. I wonder what light you would share with us in how to keep our lives in God's perspective, etc. I have my guesses, but just wonder what you would share on that.

Jennifer L. Griffith said...

Ted,

You asked a “loaded” question, but I think you know that!! ;o) One great example of what happens when we take our eyes off of Jesus is Peter and his feeble attempt to walk on water amid a storm. We all know what happened.

On a more personal level, I have survived an experience that almost took my life. This happened due to someone else’s “negligence,” but not “intentions”. This person charged with my care did not listen and make decisions based on my history, but I believe was based on money and ignorance and pride. My flesh wanted to wallow in what I knew was right in the eyes of the world. My flesh wanted to throw all of my educational credentials and knowledge to make a case against this person’s judgement. But as I sought God in this matter, this is what I heard.

“This (person) needs Me, Jennifer. You are my vessel of forgiveness and grace.”

The pain I suffered was beyond anything I’d ever experienced. My anger was “justified” and my cause righteous by all the ways of the world, BUT…as a Child of Jesus Christ our purpose is NOT of this world. It’s not about our comfort, or health or rights. It’s about Him.

As I sat across from (this person) I could see the pride and arrogance I’d once had regarding my right to my own life, as opposed to God’s. I could see myself in this person whose intentions were not to cause me harm, but whose pride got in the way the greater good of my health—resulting in harm. I saw my OWN pride that had gotten in the way of MY greater good—and more importantly, God’s—in regards to eternity just 12 years earlier. I was no different than (this person) and Jesus died for my sin—and (this person’s).

The pain that I suffered was a mere fraction of what Jesus had suffered for my sins. The pain that had interrupted my life is what has kept this person in my life, as God did not release me to go elsewhere. The purpose in my suffering is BIGGER than me…(this person) needs Jesus, and I am His vessel. I ached more knowing that (this person) would spend an eternity in Hell. If I allow my flesh to rule and wallow in it’s rewards, I win NOTHING, if grace did not abound. God chose me to show this person the forgiveness that comes from Jesus Christ. His grace, His righteousness, His peace, His hope, His LIFE. I’ve failed many times, and I didn’t want to miss the chance to experience this victory in Jesus Christ. I’ve fallen short through this process, but one thing that I know is that the Holy Spirit fills in my gaps, and is greater than this broken vessel of mine.

We may never know the full ramifications, but make no mistake, when God allows us to journey ANYWHERE in life, it’s for His greater good…there are so many lost souls along the way who need the hope demonstrated in our lives. It’s up to us to seek guidance from God, to ask for His purpose in our sufferings AND our joy…it’s always there. It’s always about souls who need Christ! (Stock clerks, writers, store owners, doctors, lawyers, nurses, street sweepers, receptionist, plumbers, carpenters, mechanics, tow-truck drivers, physical therapist, chiropractors, cashiers, wait-staff, cooks, telemarketers, etc) Our perspective needs to stay eternal. Once we receive the greatest gift of all—Jesus Christ—our purpose should be focused on Him.

Deb said...

Wow! Powerful part of your life's story in journey, Jennifer! Lessons that God continues to teach us to be His ambassadors of grace and forgiveness that souls will see and come to Christ. Thanks for what you shared.

preacherman said...

I am taking 3 anti depressants that are working great. The newest one I am on is Pristiq. Didn't know if you have heard of this one but have definatly had positive experiences with it. There was a few months that a couple of the anti-depressants gave me suicidal thoughts and unhealthy mentality. It was just test this one see how it did. I was on Cymbalta and had a bad expeirence. I then was on effexer that helped for a while then started to cause migraines. I take Amitriptylin and Pristiq. I have been on them for a month and can definately tell a difference. The reason I mention this is because some Christians need meds to help them. Depression is an illness that affect millions including Christians. Thank you again brother for dealing with this topic. I have been truely blessed by the topic and discussion of others as well.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Jennifer,
Thanks so much for sharing that. A great testimony of God's grace in your life and helpful for us to hear it.

You did answer my question quite well.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Preacherman,
Praise the Lord. Glad to hear you're doing better with the help of meds. I quite agree and maybe I'm too hard on meds, though I was not saying I'm opposed to them all the time. And I'll be suprised if I'm not on something sometime. But in cases like yours, remembering what I have heard and what I understand from what you've shared, sounds like you're on a good track.

Thanks for sharing that.

Ted M. Gossard said...

And Jennifer,
Along with much else in your thoughts, I like the thought that the Spirit fills in the gaps due to our weaknesses in falling short. Helpful to remember that and glad God has given you that experience and insight to share with us.

Jennifer L. Griffith said...

Ted,

Do know that NONE of this came easy, as my own flesh and pride are pretty darn strong, but looking back on the fruit of flesh and pride, vs that of the Spirit of God, I choice the Fruit of the Spirit and it's results anyday over that of my old self who hangs on--the daily dying to self. It really is a moment by moment coming before the Lord and listening for HIS voice.

Yes, I am so thankful for the Holy Spirit because I DO fall short too often. He's such a good God, and I just want everyone I know to experience the life He offers...the freedom from sin and the strains of the world.

Blessings to you, Ted, for opening up this subject and your honesty. God does heal in His own time and own ways. We must trust Him through the storms and the bright beautiful days that He allows into our lives.

Blessings and MORE!!!