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Commonsense Christianity

Commonsense Christianity

When You Can’t Take It Anymore

Still, quiet, calm. That’s how I like to be, but when I’m agitated by a situation that won’t go away, that’s how I am not. Tea by the Sea, original oil painting by Steve Henderson.

I don’t know about you, but I have been in particular life situations that go on so long, with so little change, that I simply want to give up.

Only, I can’t.

I mean, what am I supposed to do: pack up all my things and go . . . where?

It’s not as if I haven’t tried, telling God,

“Listen: I have prayed and prayed and prayed about this, and YOU’RE Not Doing Anything. I’m done with you. Good-bye.”

Yeah. Right.

Chronic Problems, No Solution in Sight

If you are facing a long-term, chronic problem that just never seems to go away, be encouraged, because there is an answer. And although it doesn’t look like it, progress is being made despite your not being able to see it.

Because I’ve had plenty of opportunity to practice, I have found a few coping strategies to get through those times that I’m kicking around in the desert, waiting:

Yes, You Can

1) I know you’re convinced that you can’t take it anymore, but you seriously can. As tempting as it is to stay in bed, eat chips, and play games on your Kindle, get up. The very act of walking around does something. Putting on your socks is progress, setting the pot on for tea is more progress. By the time you eat breakfast and face the first morning’s task, you tell yourself, “I can do Step A. Then I’ll do Step B. And C. I’ll make it to Z.”

2 Peter 1: 3 assures us, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness.” Everything.

Think about it: the tasks you’re setting for yourself are doable — just maybe not the tasks you would like to do — but it’s not as if you’re facing the Grand Canyon with a rope and a hook and instructions to throw the rope, hook it to the other side, and walk across.

Standing here, looking down, is enough. You want me to walk across this thing on a tightrope? Only with God, my friend, only with God. Diaphanous, original oil painting by Steve Henderson; licensed open edition print at Great Big Canvas.

Walking a Tightrope

2) Speaking of walking across the Grand Canyon, that’s what life feels like sometimes: you’re on a tightrope, halfway across (don’t ask me how — I don’t know how you or I managed it this far either) and your only options are to turn around and head back (are you nuts?), fall (not an option), or keep going forward. Both you and I know that we don’t know how to tightrope walk, so how is it that we’re here?

Proverbs 3: 5-6 tells us, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” He knows how to walk a tightrope; that’s all that matters.

God’s It, All of It

3) God’s all you’ve got, you know, and He really is enough. If you get tired of telling him about your problems, give it a rest. He won’t forget, and we certainly know that you won’t, but when God’s timing isn’t in alliance with yours and you keep running into a brick wall, why keep whacking your head?

Give yourself a precious 15 minutes today to totally escape from your thoughts about your situation. Focus, determinedly, on something else. Take a walk and absorb the sunshine and the breeze. Do a jigsaw puzzle and concentrate on finding just the right piece. Lean on the gate and watch the chickens.

Revelation 8:4 tells us that, “The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel’s hand.” Your prayers are precious, and they’re heard. Take a break.

Change Happens Fast

4) Don’t think that what you see, is what you have to get.

While it’s tempting to believe that your situation will go on, and on, and on until the day that you drag yourself into your death bed, think of God’s words to Moses in Exodus 6: 6:

“I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians . . . I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment.” God didn’t stop working in people’s lives 3,500 years ago, and He doesn’t limit his concern to specific people, with the exclusion of you.

God Is Good Indeed

5) Think about the goodness of God. This is a variation of Step 3, which encourages you to take a break from thinking about your situation all the time. Since you’re dependent upon God for your answers, think about who He is:

He’s perfect. (Psalm 18: 30)

He’s completely good. (1 John 1:5)

He’s powerful and in control. (Matthew 19: 26)

And most importantly, He is your Father, and He loves you very much. (1 John 3: 1)

Be encouraged, my friend. You are not — and are never — alone.

Thank You

Thank you for joining me at Commonsense Christianity, where I write about living the Christian life, as opposed to talking about it. Of course, this means that I’m stumbling and fumbling my way through the process, just like you, and I share what I learn as I learn it.

Posts similar to this one are

When You’re Not as Happy as You Wish You Were

Don’t Worry: It’s NOT All up to You

The Audacity of Despair

 

  • http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/commonsensechristianity/ Carolyn Henderson

    Richard — so much of what we struggle with down here is done without the happy feelings we’re told to expect. Life is difficult, and some days, we get through it only by intellectually reminding ourselves of the promises God makes, and that He can be trusted to keep them.

    When we deny this — when we smile and say we’re “just fine because we have Jesus,” we also deny ourselves the opportunity to grow closer to Him, because while human beings can be fooled by our words and attitude, God sure isn’t.

    Paul in Ephesians 3:18 prays that the saints will grasp how “wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge.” If this were something that we already intrinsically knew and were comfortable with, then Paul would have no reason to pray that we had this knowledge.

    Your prayers are between you and God, and He does not condemn you.

  • Richard Yun

    Thank you for such a thoughtful article. Its been a while since I haven’t felt condemned by Christians for struggling and not “feeling” God’s presence in my life. Its especially nice not having to read how ostensibly selfish I am for wanting God to solve my problems in the way that I want them to be solved. I guess the irony is that the fact that you acknowledge some of the hard realities of suffering and prayer gives me hope that God IS really here with us. Thank you so much.

  • Pingback: When Our Dreams Never Come True - Commonsense Christianity

  • http://thiswomanwrites.areavoices.com/ Carolyn Henderson

    Antoinette — it is liberating, the more we realize how thoroughly we can count on God and rest in His arms. So different is it from our standard way of thinking, that for many of us (me included), it’s a lifetime journey getting this one through the head. The more you understand and believe it, the less you fit into the world around you, and that world includes, sadly too often, the church community.

    When Christ talks about walking a narrow path, He’s talking about walking a very, very narrow path. Not a lot of people on it, but Christ is — and that’s the most important Person to be on that path!

  • antoinette pogieter

    Thank you Lord that I can count on you ,for every thing .I do not have to worry about any situation . That is your job . You alone God is in control.Your ways are not my ways .You are God`s dwelling place.” Know you not that you are the temple of God ,and the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” 1 Corinthians 3:16

  • Pingback: Desperately Need a Place of Rest? You’ve Got One - Commonsense Christianity

  • http://thiswomanwrites.areavoices.com/ Carolyn Henderson

    Thank you, Shade. It is comforting to know that God is, indeed, our refuge and tower of safety, protecting us and leading us.

  • http://www.shadeakinbiyi.com shade akinbiyi

    Excellent post! The Lord is a strong tower and a refuge of safety. (Prov 18:10). With God on our side we can walk any rope. Thank you for the encouragement!

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