We all have problems. Jesus said in Matthew that in this world, well, we would have problems. We would persecuted because we love him. But from the time that rotten old serpent slithered his way into Eve's vision and brought doubt into her mind, this world has been full of problems. Sin created our problems.
But, what of the born again, sanctified, blood-washed saint? Paul said in Romans 6:14,
Sin is no longer your master, for you are no longer subject to the law,
which enslaves you to sin. Instead, you are free by God's
If we are no longer slaves to sin, than how is it that we still have problems?
With the economy what it is, and the choice we have made for me to stay home and raise our children and manage the household, we are struggling at times to make sense of it all. As we pay off debt, our utilities increase. We never seem to get ahead. We continue to tithe, as we continue to pray believing that no one can afford not to tithe, nor can anyone afford not to spend time in prayer.
God continues to be faithful. He was, He is, and He is to come. Not one letter of His word has changed since He first delivered it to the writers via divine inspiration. And yet, with all of the Bible that I have read and studied, with all of the witness and testimony from my own past, I get afraid. I worry. I doubt. I cry out in exasperation. And I wonder what my problem is.
THE PROBLEM IS ME.
Without grace, I am nothing. I am nothing more than a leaf blowing in the wind. I am here for a season, and then I am swept away. Without grace, I am a sinner who deserves nothing but death. I am a child who needs discipline and reproof yet laughs in the face of the teacher. Without grace, wisdom bestowed upon me is wasted and thrown away. Without grace, I have no value.
But I know that I have been bought with the price of Jesus' blood. I know that His blood has bought for me victory, joy, breakthrough, blessing, and a whole host of other gifts that the Father has given me. Through grace.
And yet, I see myself as having no value. Although I strive to be like Jesus, I badger and belittle myself when I fail. When I feel as though I have no value, I blame my children, my husband, my family, my friends for not seeing and praising me for my value. I tell God that no one appreciates me. I ask for another blessing, but only with my tongue in cheek because I have just told Him that I have no value.
The problem is me.
I have two wonderful boys who God has entrusted me to raise. They share a bedroom and a great distaste for taking responsibility for their own actions. I am actually starting to believe that there is a third boy sharing their bedroom. His name is "Notmee". I say this because I can be assured that this third child is destroying the room that the other two have cleaned. I know this because when I ask them who made the mess on the floor, who took the books off the shelf, who threw their dirty clothes on the floor, they always tell me, "Notmee."
But perhaps the bigger point here is learning to take responsibility for the actions that they blame on each other. The younger of the two always tells me it's not his fault when he spends all of dinner time in laughter because his brother made him laugh. The older one tells me it's not his fault when he hits his brother because his brother made him mad.
To which I ask, "Did he tickle you?" or "Did he get inside your head and tell you that you had to be mad?" They don't like those questions. They dislike the whole idea that while we cannot change the past actions of those around us, we are always able to choose how we will respond to them. Of course, if you are 7 or 10-year olds, you just respond without thought. But not so as an adult and parent, right?
But that's it exactly. When I get a utility bill that has almost doubled, I immediately panic and get afraid and want to blame the utility company for raising their rates. I pray to God and ask Him why He's letting them do this to me. Why am I being punished for their desires? And what I fail to see is that the problem here is not the utility company, it is not my family's fault (well, not entirely...at least), and it is not God's problem. God did not create this problem. And in a heartbeat, I have taken the problem away from Him by becoming irrational and forgetting His promises:
And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.or:
So I tell you, don't worry about everyday life-whether you have enough
food, drink, and clothes. Doesn't life consist of more than food and
clothing?... your heavenly Father feeds them. And you are far more valuable
to him than they are. (Matthew 6:25, 26b)
The problem is not God. God's faithfulness has not changed. His love for me has not changed either. The problem is my own doubt and fear.
Perhaps you are experiencing this yourself. Perhaps you have come to the conclusion that the greatest detriment to your own faith deepening isn't the "horrible" choice of songs during praise at church, nor is it the offensive perfume/cologne someone beside you decided to wear. It is not the teaching geared to the soul who is sitting there for the first time hearing the good news, nor is it a baby crying or giggling. The biggest stumbling block in the growth of our faith is ourselves. We tie ourselves to the past, to our failures, to our fears and doubts and then we become the problem.
God has already promised over and over to provide for us more than we can begin to hope or ask for. We need to get out of the way.
Father, I realize that the problems I am experiencing have nothing to do with my intrinsic value in your eyes. They have nothing to do with your faithfulness and promises. The problem is that I want me first--not you. Father, search me and know me. Let me see these things just as you see them, and then remove them from my character. And above all, remove all of my selfish nature. Teach me to ask to be a blessing, and not to just receive one. Teach me to lift others up instead of just trying to stand on their shoulders. And above all, give me more of you and less of me so that I can be light and salt in this world, my temporary home. In Jesus' name, AMEN.