I am currently reading a favorite book for the third time. Since it has already been heavily underlined this time around I am adding asterisks for extra emphasis. But what hit me yesterday is something altogether new; something I don’t even remember reading or thinking about before.
Isn’t God just like that keeping certain truths hidden until just the right time?
I must have read it before, but until this read through I had missed the significance. But, now- this time- God knew what my heart needed to see.
Before I explain more, I will give you a little background. My husband has been an ordained minister for about fourteen years. For about half that time we ministered to college students and over the years encountered several who were severly depressed, even suicidal.
I couldn’t understand this kind of desperation. It just didn’t seem congruent for a believer in Christ to be struggling so deeply with a lack of faith, doubt or depression. It’s not that I didn’t feel badly for them, but in my ignorance it seemed they either weren’t doing something needed to help or not believing the way they should. Before you judge me as insensitive, I will say it myself – because I did not identify with those struggles I was not compassionate and did not see how my pride made me as equally in need of a Savior.
Now fast-forward to this year. Some of these relate to the struggles my daughter is experiencing. I know she loves Jesus, she has the head knowledge to know He loves her, she has a family who loves and supports her, she hates her struggles and is getting help for them, yet they are still there.
She would never choose it like this, but it is outside of her control. God created her perfectly according to his plan, which means the ways she struggles, the fears, the doubts, the at times mustard-seed faith is how he wanted her to be – for her good and his glory.
I believe this with all my heart – in his goodness he has left her to struggle in the ways that she is for her good and for his glory. It doesn’t make dealing with it easier, but it does give purpose and meaning and hope!
The fact I can say this with full assurance, doesn’t make me a better Christian than someone who struggles with weaker faith. This is the light bulb realization I’ve come to see: Faith is a gift! There is nothing in us that can conjure up a strong faith.
Just “getting” this has led to greater compassion, not just for my daughter, but for others who struggle with doubting, depression or mental illness. I see the sometimes dibilitating and desperate enslavement of it. The hopeless that pushes out truth.
Some of you may know this scenario all too well. For me, it may not be first-hand, but God is using other’s struggles to shape and change me, too. And in them I am thankful: He is helping me see where I have lacked compassion and helping me see my need of His grace and compassion. Because whether our faith is strong or weak, it is He who holds us. It is He who covers us with His perfect obedience and righteousness and views us accordingly!
For those with little, mustard-seed faith you may gain the deeper understanding of this reality. But I pray each of us, by his grace, find hope in these words of pastor Tullian Tchividjian:
“Because Jesus was strong for me, I am free to be weak. Because Jesus won for me, I am free to lose. Becaue Jesus was Someone, I am free to be no one. Because Jesus was extraordinary, I am free to be ordinary. Because Jesus succeeded for me, I am free to fail.”