Same Old?

I’m struck by how I seem to be endlessly fighting the same battles. It can feel like there’s one or two issues that keep cropping up, say a longing for a partner or a family – you pray about it and give it to the Lord and for a little while you know real freedom. But then, perhaps you’ve had a tricky week, or you’re tired or it’s a bad time of year, (New Year’s Eve for example. Always a beaut). Straight away, that problem’s back. Whispering in your ear. Lord, I say – we covered this issue just last week. And the week before. In fact, we’ve been going over this same ground since I was 16. Please! Grant me relief! I feel like I’m stuck in a loop – and how can I be growing as a believer if I can’t just let this go? I’m too embarrassed to talk to my friends about it any more – I’ve already spent hours droning on and still, no closure. It’s hard not to feel that when I pray about it too, the Lord doesn’t have to stifle an inward groan. Emma – enough already! At least give me some new material..But I guess the situation (e.g; being unemployed or unmarried), is not actually the problem. The Lord loves and cares for me and He tells me to come to Him with all of my cares. The danger lies in my interpretation of it – what it makes me feel about myself, and, most importantly, how it shapes my attitude to Him. So I don’t just think, oh I can’t work in some things, but I am able to do others. I’ll keep taking it to the Lord and take a day at a time in His strength. Instead I label myself pathetic, lazy, a failure.

Often I’ll find myself talking to others about things that I find painful, but somehow never quite taking them to God. Or else I’ve prayed about them – maybe for years, but I’m still struggling so now I want to give up. God obviously doesn’t care. Or He wants me to be godly but unhappy. He’ll use my suffering to help others, but keep me miserable.

But hang on, if this is the case, then the God I’m following is not the Lord of the Bible. He doesn’t design life as a series of hoops for us to jump through, nor does He bring us pain for the sake of it. I’ve decided, wrongly,  that for my life to work, it needs to include a number of factors. Pain is now a sign that something is wrong – that God’s not doing His job, (to keep me comfortable). And if I’m struggling and God doesn’t solve my problem, then He’s at fault. Right?

Er – no. Despite my protestations, the problem lies with me.

And my attitude defines my perspective. You see, even though it looks like I’m covering the same ground, over the years the battle has shifted. I’m not the person I was just a year ago and I’m learning about the Lord’s grace and the depths of my heart in a deep way. I see this too in my friends. One girl I know struggles with singleness and has done for many years. In her lowest moments, she feels that nothing has changed – but there’s a beauty, a joy and a depth of maturity in her that is wonderful to see. Five years ago, she could say with her lips, I trust the Lord, whatever He plans for me. Now she really believes it and her life is a testimony to His strength in her weakness. It is a beautiful and miraculous work – and through it she has not only been a huge blessing to others, but known the Lord’s peace and healing in her own life.

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