How Is Your Heart?

“I’m struggling.”  I voice the words outoud that whine and entangle themselves in my soul in countless ways. 

“I don’t know.”  I shrug my shoulders heavily, my body echoing the heavy thoughts that swirl in my head.

Tears escape.  Seems I’m always crying.  Sometimes I can control them (barely).  Usually they just tumble out, and at that point I need the release of emotions, so I let them come, not caring how red my eyes get and yet deep down bothered that I’m bothered.

“Why is this so hard?”  I muse inwardly and often outloud into the dark night around me. Why indeed?  I know that God is Sovereign.  I know that God is good.  So why does this question bubble up so much in conversatons of my mind.  I know Truth.  So why does this curious question refuse to be silent, and why does the need for an answer torment me?  There is a reality that I won’t know the full answer here on this earth.

So I console myself with the words of Habakuk: “How long, oh Lord, will I call for help, and You will not hear?”

I repeat the words of the Psalmist: “Oh God, be not silent! Answer me quickly!”  “The Lord is an ever present help in time of troube.” “Why are you downcast oh my soul?  Put your hope in God!” (Ps. 83:1, 102:2, 46:1, 42:5)

I wonder why prayer and reading my Bible seems so hard lately.  I don’t even seem to know what to think about some things.  I feel I don’t know what to pray.  How can I pray if I don’t even understand my emotions and thoughts or wants?

And the words from Twila Paris’s song ring in my head, “Life is hard…” They repeat and repeat and repeat, stuck like a record player.

I wish I could say these days happen rarely, yet lately it seems far more frequent than I want to admit.  {Sigh.}

Life.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Eph. 6:12

“I know how to get along with little, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.   I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”  Phil. 4:12-13  —  True. I know this.  Yet I find myself having to confess discontentment.  Or I know that Christ is my strength, but I don’t feel strong or content. How long does it take to actually learn this?

“Life is hard —  but God is good.”  The Twila Paris song records again in my mind, this time the sentance finishing.  “God, you are good”  I say aloud.  Then I have to repeat it, because it doesn’t feel true.  In fact it feels not true.  I tell myself that feelings lie and God is good. I find my brain arguing back … well, what about _____?  That’s not good!  “God IS good,” I say louder.  The nagging doesn’t give up and resounds again, yeah, but not in this area of life.   Arrgh!  “God, You are good.”  I say it again.  The nagging whisper of doubt is silenced, but only briefly before coming back to bother me from a different angle on another day.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son.”  I like the idea of things working for my good. But all things?  Even where I’m at right now, even what we are facing? Even certain things I’m facing.  Good?  They don’t “feel good” and actually it seems like they are not good.

And the battle continues.  Sins in my heart surface.  It is often easy to focus on the external sins, but to God the sins in my heart are also things he wants to change, to purify, and to redeem.   They are what He went to the cross for — to save me, but also to sanctify me.  Scantification — the process of becoming more like Jesus.  And Jesus knows the sins in me that keep me in bondage.  He knows the lies I’m listening to, and He wants to free me.

I know this in my head.  My heart is struggling.  And I blame.  I blame the circumstances around me (God knows the world, politics, and things in my home — and He wants to scanctify me in these circumstances).  I blame people around me.  I criticize.  And then I grumble.

Sometimes I’m just like the Israelites, grumbling when God rescued them from bondage and led them to the promised land… taking them the long way because they were not ready for what lay ahead.  They didn’t know this reason, but they grumbled none the less. They wanted to go back to the familiar bondage and troubles of Egypt rather than trust God. God let them wander extra long on the way to the promised land, partly because they grumbled against him.

The whispers in my soul say,”Good Christians don’t grumble against God.  Good Christians don’t sin.”  LIES!  We have an enemy of our soul who wants to separate us from God. His purpose is to kill, steal, and destroy.  And he is so subtle in his deceit.  He uses things and people, and shoots firey darts of dissapointment, discontentment, greed, feelings of deserving better, and so much more to keep us from turning to God and to keep us grumbling.  Sin on purpose — no, I’ve been rescued and redemeed!  But sometimes I choose to hold onto bitterness, I choose to disobey, I choose to wallow in self focus or self pity.  And sometimes I’m not trying to disobey at all, I’m simply, as the song says, “Prone to leave the God I love”.

And that is my heart.  How is your heart?  It has been such a challenging year.  I talk with my sister.  She has her own emotions and challenges in her own season of life.  God is good,  we tell each other.  He is gracious.

I listen to a podcast and hear, “No good thing does God withhold from them whose walk is blameless.” (Ps. 84:11)  So why does it seem God is withholding good in certain areas of my life?  Guilt rears an ugly head as I think: I am not blamesless (I know my sins and thoughts).  I find myself striving– and performance based theology is not of God. (Lies of Satan again!)

I listen further to the podcast.  “It is good that I am afflicted, that I might learn your statues.”  (Ps. 119:71) God, it’s good?  Affliction is good?  I don’t understand!  I keep listening because even though the speaker was talking about a challenge I’d never faced, I identified with the emotions.  My own challenges felt the same though vastly different.

“God’s ways are perfect.” (Ps.18:30)  I know this.  Again, my heart is lagging behind.  Oh God, you are my Helper! I need You!

So, where is your heart?  This is the cycle of my heart these last months.  It’s been hard.  I’m sure you can relate.  Sweet sister in Christ, press on with me.  I’m pressing on too, right here with you.

God is good. His ways are right.  (Say it outloud!  Say it again.  Tell yourself this.  It might not feel true.  But it is!)

 

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