The last couple of Sundays we've been dealing with honest real life struggles- despair and fear. A significant lesson from both Psalm 42 and 46 is the importance of pouring out our struggles before God. The words of Ed Welch below are an additional encouragement to take all of our struggles to God- even the smallest ones.
“With all the problems in the world, what I struggle with is no big deal.”
How impressive. There’s nothing worse than a whining man, and he certainly isn’t whining. This thirty-eight-year old father of three is a true warrior. Get a few scratches in battle? No problem. Happens all the time. Gangrene arm? Go ahead, cut it off so I can enter the fray. A man’s man.
He probably reminds you of the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Lop off one of his arms? “Tis but a scratch.” Lop off the other? “It’s just a flesh wound.”
And my friend, like the Black Knight, is completely deceived.
Don’t Set God’s Priorities
“With all the problems in the world, what I struggle with is no big deal.” This is a nice package for heresy. You won’t find the inherent assumptions in any orthodox theology text. You certainly won’t find them in Scripture.
This is what he is saying:
- God is busy, so he has to establish priorities. He must rank order people’s pain. For Stage IV cancer, he is all over it, giving comfort and hope. But for the nuisances of daily life, he expects us to deal with those on our own.
- Since I can always find someone whose problems are worse than mine, there is always someone in the prayer queue more worthy than me. A gentleman always defers to others.
- And I am not worthy anyway. With all my sin, why would God listen to my complaining?
Here is the truth:
If You Minimize Pain to Your Peril:
- You miss a perfect opportunity to turn to Jesus and say, “Please, help. Have mercy.”
- It becomes another opportunity to build your own independent world that you manage apart from the Lord.
Two passages can guide us with this problem that resides in most every male heart.
Trust in God, Not Yourself
“They do not cry to me from the heart, but they wail upon their beds” (Hosea 7:14).
Israel’s sin was that they kept their pain to themselves. We were created as dependent, and the basic command to humanity is to be people of faith, which means that we trust in the Lord and not ourselves. Faith can be reduced to “Jesus, help.” There is nothing more right and satisfying that we could do.
We were created as dependent, and the basic command to humanity is to be people of faith, which means that we trust in the Lord and not ourselves.
God Wants to Help with the Little Things Too
For corroboration of this truth, go to the Psalms. Every Psalm is the Lord saying to us, “Call to me when things are good or bad, hard or easy. Call to me with the least of your anxieties.” Even more, if we are struggling with finding the right words, the Psalms are God’s means of helping us put words on the groaning of our hearts.
Once again, God’s ways are counterintuitive. Maximize your pain! Repent of saying, “It’s only a flesh wound.” And be amazed that your God and Father cares about the smallest details of your life.
(HT: The Resurgence)
As a bonus here's a quote from M'Cheyne that will help fuel your fight against fear.
“If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet distance makes no difference. He is praying for me. (Robert Murray M’Cheyne p. 179)
(HT: Erik Raymond)