Seems like the most difficult person in anyone’s life is the one in the mirror. That’s true for me at least. Part of the reason I write this blog is motivated by my own struggles. I know what it’s like to suffer intensely. When I finally get a lesson right, I feel like Jonas Salk with the polio vaccine. I want to run out and help prevent anyone else from tripping over that vine. Life is full of solvable problems creating unnecessary suffering. All that is needed is a remedy that’s already there somewhere.
An unnecessary problem is a riddle in your head that can’t be solved simply because you don’t have the answer. It creates unnecessary doubt. Doubt is a destabilizer. Faith is a healer.
Jesus never doubted. He always knew the truth. He knew never to doubt the Father. Faith is a bridge to God’s power, whether or not one’s understanding stands up to a challenge. Understanding allows us to see through deception.
God hasn’t talked to me personally, nor sent me any emails, but so far as I can figure, the one thing I am good at is discernment. And I have some ability to express what God shows me. In the body of Christ, I strive to help split through deception and confusion to lift others up and eliminate hindrances to faith. I have no power to do it on my own, so when and where this gift shows up, I believe it is the Holy Spirit doing it for the express purpose of overcoming unnecessary suffering.
The Holy Spirit indwells everyone who receives Christ. He acts as a guide and teacher, comforter and Paraclete. But not everyone’s gifts are the same. What God writes on the heart does not always make it to the head intact. Though the Spirit confirms truth, lack of understanding, sin and external factors muddy the waters and weaken faith. These problems can be overcome.
“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” Philippians 2:12-13
The passage above is a curiosity. Salvation is not obtained through good behavior, going to church, or giving away your possessions. You don’t work to get it. So what is Paul talking about? He’s talking about the journey. Salvation is received when you accept Christ as Savior. That starts a process inside you to become more like him day by day. You are working out the salvation that lives inside you, shedding the old clothes and putting on the new in Christ.
The journey is a hard one. There’s lots to get tangled up in and many places to fall down. In John Bunyan’s story “Pilgrim’s Progress” he illustrates the life of Christian walking the straight and narrow path to the Holy City. Christian sometimes strays off the path and gets a pummeling from the enemy. One place he ended up was called the Castle of Despair. I’ve spent a lot of time there, myself. I can tell you, it’s nowhere anyone wants to be. Unfortunately, the Adversary has a lot of investment in taking believers there.
The spiritual forces of darkness major in technicalities. For example, you try to share your simple faith in Christ that brings you so much joy, but then the enemy comes along like he did in the garden to deceive you. He starts testing you with questions you can’t answer; takes the Word out of context and misapplies it. Your testimony isn’t invalidated because you’re not an expert, but the enemy wants you to feel that way. The goal is to shut you down and incapacitate your testimony.
In order to defend against this attack a believer must engage both heart and mind. Faith bridges doubt to release the power of God. Understanding enables wielding God’s word effectively. The heart engages faith. The mind engages the Word, which scripture calls a double-edged sword, to destroy any argument that sets itself up against the truth.
God’s work in the life of a believer is ongoing. Just as scripture was written through the personalities and skills of individuals, so God works within each of us individually. He desires that we bring our uniqueness into the process, though it is his power that ultimately accomplishes his will.
What does God have in mind for you?