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.


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  • thinking

    I am a Christian. Sometimes i shake my head andd wonder if sometimes Christians lack common sense. I have a Christian Bro who is enduring a lot of problems from his neighbour. He talked to the neighbour, got his neighhbours in. Also called the local authorities. But some Christian Bros say..just pray, ask God and dont sue the neighbour. And these Christian advisers are NOT the one facing the problem day in and day out.
    another case, i have a relative who has depression and gives a lot of problems. After consulting a Psychiatrist, a Christian Bro said to Pray and fast and dont take the drug cauuse it has side effects. I am like, Man..I have prayed and done all the Spiritual stuff. And i am the one facing the problem day in and out. And these people themselves have their own close relativess who take the same drugs.
    So, i feel Christians sometimes are hypocrites and lack common sense. Like to talk and give spiritual sounding advise but when come to their turn, i doubt they will follow their own advise.

  • bro in christ

    Dear brother/sister,i dont know whether this helps, but I had read Job during a difficult time of my life when i was struggling with doubts about God. I felt totally lost and hedge in, just like how david said in ps 118 I felt hard pressed when i cried to the lord.

    Basically I read and reread the first 2 chapters of Job and on and on till something burned my heart and gave me a release in my heart eventhough the situation did not seem to improve. the first thing Job did,
    1) fall on ground in worship.
    2)when he say the lord has take… the lord has given, he is basically saying, God you are the one who has given and take, you are the one who allow this, you are the one in control and I acknowledge you.
    3)praise God

    LIke many of us, God is trying to teach me many times i forget to remember that everything in my life right now, is allowed by God. I forget that God is over all and that he is working it for my good. I just simply have unbelief towards God nd his promises. I just cant believe.

    But we must rem abt this.

    Going back to worship, Job worship God as a response, not as a means to elicit a solution from God. In fact after he worship, satan struck again. SOUNDs LIKE our circumstances right. I believe you know that it was after so many debates, God finally answer. So the question is why he worship?

    Job is a faithful worshipper of God, he basically worship God thru all situations, thick and thin.

    If there is one thing we can learn esp me, it is God saying thru his word IF you don not what to do just worship as Job did. circumstances worsen. never mind. just worship. I believe that as we worship God for who he is just like JOb, God will strengthen us and in the end just like in Job, God WILL COME THRU for us, cause his word never fails.

    Amen. I pray that this word will pierce your heart and lift you spirit. All glory to Jesus.

  • Carolyn Henderson

    I hear you, Stanley, and I wish that I had words of comfort for you. Let’s start by shooting down the false teaching that you must “get it right” before God, before He hears you. Establishment church teaching is that it’s always something to do with us; we’re always screwing up, so God doesn’t hear us.

    But we can’t be perfect! We weren’t when we came to Him in the first place, and if He accepted us then, knowing fully what and who we are, why would He place new limitations on us just because we know Him? One of the reasons it seems so difficult is because we’re working so hard to figure God out, and convincing ourselves that this is what it takes to get Him to listen to us.

    C.S. Lewis wrote a book called The Problem of Pain, which addresses certain reasons why pain comes into our lives. It is not one to be read by a church-ie Christian who has been taught to say, “Things are bad in my life because I am BAD!” because to this type of person, any pain is there because God is displeased with them. But it can be most comforting, and thought provoking, to a Christian who is waking up to the concept that God is good, and when He says He loves us, He means it (and a person who loves another person, doesn’t do it perversely).

    I also recommend Lewis’s Narnia Chronicles, which are falsely attributed to be children’s stories. The profundity of truth in them is awe inspiring.

    One thing that helps me, Stanley, is knowing that I am not alone. I interact with various Christians who are dealing with specific pains and hurts in their lives that are a major part of their day, and every day they get up and walk, hoping for an answer to what hurts, but making it to the end of the day. We know that, just as Peter said, there is no other answer than Christ, because He has the words of life, and if it isn’t He, then what?

    None of us spend much time around or with Job’s comforters, the ones who have an easy answer to our questions, and who dump everything into our lap as all our problem to be solved. Someday, in their own lives, they will run into something so big and overwhelming, that they will begin to understand, but that someday is not today. Do not let these people bother or influence you – people who blithely talk about how much faith they have to overcome problems, and how they happily rest in Jesus, many times have not been brought to the edge of their endurance, as some of us — like you — are finding.

    My prayer is that God will put you into the life of someone who is aching as well, and that the two of your (or more) will sharpen your sword against one another, and that you will be able to lift one another and support each other as you walk. That’s what it means to love one another, as Jesus told his disciples (us) to do.

    I am praying for you, my brother, in your difficult path. It’s not that you haven’t found the right words, it’s not that your faith is imperfect, it’s not that you’re just not doing it the way you’re supposed to — it’s that you’re in a very hard place now, you can’t SEE the path before you, and it’s agonizing. All of us who have walked, and do walk, that path reach out to you in empathy, and encourage you to keep walking. You won’t fall, because He IS holding you.

  • Stanley Dunbar

    I get tired of hearing this after awhile, we are constantly held accountable for our actions in the eyes of God. I don’t understand why there has to be such a great trial period to receive from Him. We should be able to pray and He gives is an answer, even if that answer is not right now. The suffering plus the silence is a crappy situation. Who do you turn to when it seems like God doesn’t even hear you? Delay doesn’t make you more holy or strengthen your faith and weakens it and allows the devil to tempt you with doubt. Why does it have to be so confusing and difficult to receive from a God who wants to bless you? Why would He allow you to be tempted past the point of what’s bearable. I’ve read the scripture and I have not experienced the God of the bible in the time in my life when I needed Him the most.

  • Carolyn Henderson

    You are welcome — I am glad that it helped. Sometimes, the biggest encouragement in what we’re facing is to know that we’re not alone in this, that we’re not the only one who has waited and felt bereft in waiting, that it’s not a “special” punishment meted out to us alone.

  • WAM

    Thank you for your article….it certainly helped.

  • 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.

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  • 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

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  • 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.

  • 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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