Tuesday, January 19, 2010

So I'm NOT Supposed to Struggle?

I was recently told this in a manner of speaking in a Facebook conversation. This irritates me at a level within that I cannot even begin to describe. The premise was that since I am a pastor, and therefore have arrived spiritually (tongue firmly planted in cheek), I should not struggle with life's difficulties. This is in the context of my unborn daughter that has been diagnosed with spina bifida.

If anything this has further intensified the struggle. I do not mean that since I am in Christian ministry that I should not struggle or some such nonsense, because simple empirical evidence would militate otherwise. I do not mean that I should not struggle because I'm a Christian. Jesus happened to promise the exact opposite of that sentiment.

I have seen a good bit in my short tenure of ministry. I've stood in hospital rooms unable to do anything to alleviate obvious pain. I've gone over to homes in the middle of the night to offer comfort after the death of a loved one. I've prayed for people who were sick and they didn't get better. I tried to share God's love with a young man in the hospital writhing in pain after a car crash who flatly rejected any notion of God.

I've watched people die. That scene is just not easily shaken.

But, I've also prayed for people who have gotten better. I've quite literally seen miracles take place on hospital beds. So it amplifies the struggle. I know that my baby may or MAY NOT be OK. But to say I should not struggle is patently foolish. I may be a minister, but I'm also human; a deeply flawed human who doesn't always get things right. I'm a deeply flawed human who has committed himself to a perfect Lord and Savior who is infinitely good and desires only the best for him, his family, and the baby growing in his wife's womb.

I ache. The struggle is deep. The struggle is difficult. Its intense. To say otherwise is an illusion of a sort that I am not familiar and don't care to be familiar.


Bernard Shuford said...

I shouldn't say this.

But I will.

Most Christians live a life of constant illusion. Reference Norman Vincent Peale and any given Word/Faith teacher. We tell ourselves that all is good even when our gut screams that we're terrified. We don't want to be the Christian that is having a hard time, because we get accused of sin and not reading our Bible and not praying and not serving our wives enough and not loving the church enough and not caring for our children properly and not tithing enough and for having too big a mortgage or any of another million things. We don't want to be the guy that Dave Ramsey makes fun of or Paul Washer accuses of being unsaved. We don't want some spiritual guru to rip our secret sins out of our heart and post them in the National Enquirer. We say "I'm fine" even when our hearts are being slaughtered by the things we are surrounded with. So, we fake it.

And most of the people who tell us and you to "let go and let God" are actually burying themselves under the lie that things should never go wrong for Christians. The skeletons most of us hang onto are old and rattly, but still scary.

Yet, we'll blab at some young preacher who's struggling and tell him his faith is weak.

There, I said it.

We ARE supposed to struggle. Paul called the entire Christian existence a fight. A warfare. People DIE in warfare. That's no rosy existence.


We can find rest in Christ. No other.

This song has "RamblingProphet" wrote all over it, bro.


Tony said...

You've ministered to me through this comment and the link, bro. Thanks.

I would agree with you 100%; we tend to put up a pretty good front. I'm having a harder and harder time with that.

Ruth said...

People write you off when you are a spiritual leader and they find out that you struggle. Well, a lot of them do. But it isn't Godly. it isn't right. You have to forgive them.

I do want to share something with you. Twenty years ago, when I was pregnant for my first child, I had some bleeding, quite a bit of bleeding, in fact. The doctor said, "Lie down and keep your fluids going. Don't feel bad, there's nothing you can do." When the bleeding stopped, they sent me for a sonogram to see if there was still a baby in me. There was. The sonogram tech must have been an angel of God, in fact, I'm sure he was. He told me, "When they do tests later on, it may look like there is a problem with your baby, but I think you lost a twin, which throws test results off, so don't worry."

Later, they told me that my baby had spina bifida. I remembered what the tech had said, and I didn't worry. I hung up on them when they called and tried to strong-arm me into an abortion. I prayed a lot. Today that baby is a 20 year old chemistry genius preparing for graduate school.

So, I'm just saying, there is still hope. I'm not saying that you shouldn't struggle. I'm not saying that you shouldn't prepare for the worst. I am a firm believer in preparing for the worst. I'm just saying that there is reason to hope, so hope in the Lord, and grieve, and prepare for the worst, but never give up hoping, because our God is a God of miracles and I have personally seen Him heal more than one unborn baby before it came into the world. And also, medical tests are not always right.

James Jordan said...

THe slavery of believing in the god-man sacrifice. Its supposed to free you of worry. But it only increases them. Its supposed to provide hope, but it only brings despair. Jesus is just a bludgeon to beat you over the head with. Paul designed it all for bullies to beat the righteous. Its geared towards the extremely wicked. And how do they condemn the righteous? They make emotions into sins. Adultery? Fornication? Abortion? No big deal. Jesus' blood will just wash that away magically. But if you ever get angry at an injustice, sorry Mithras' (I mean Jesus') blood can't handle that one. That's just too serious of a sin. If you ever get sad? Sorry, Jesus can only wash away sexual sins and murder and thieving and the big stuff for which people probably shouldn't be forgiven -- he can't forgive the little things. Those whom the Son has set free are only set free from being condemned for the big bad -- the little stuff will send you to hell. Isn't this how Christianity works? Its absurd; entirely backwards.

James Jordan said...

I'd say I'm praying for you, but I'm not sure how you'd respond to hearing that from a "heretic." But I will say this. Don't let the little holier than thou fornicators get to you. They think they're great Christians because their sins are big. They've made them strong like Luther told Melancthon to do. But here you are with a little bitty sin that's not really a sin. Emotions aren't sins. So they can't cut you any slack for it, because its their job to harass the righteous. That's why they're in the church, to make you miserable over nothing. But you can cut yourself some slack.