I have had the honor of being a believer in Jesus Christ for over 30 years. I have also been privileged to work with many different people during that period – those who know Jesus and those who do not. Through these experiences, I have learned that believers are not exempt from struggles in life. I have learned some things about the struggles of believers that I would like to share with you. Without being overly simplistic, I have noticed that most struggles that believers encounter come from one of or a combination of the following three foundations:
1. A general misunderstanding of God’s nature.
Our family of origin plays many significant roles in life. One of those roles is to teach the basic foundations of love, trust, and security. For various reasons, many people do not grow up in homes that are stable. Divorce, abandonment by a parent and other factors can create the conditions that cause a child to grow up questioning their worth and value. Some grow up expecting bad things to happen to them because, due to the message of unworthiness they received in childhood they are destined to repeat the pain of the past over and over. They are somehow “fundamentally flawed” therefore, bad things will repeat again and again. Even in relatively stable homes where parents provide for and love their kids, children can still grow up with significant question marks regarding their value.
The instability created by these situations can cause these kids to grow up to be struggling adults. Oh, many of them may be extremely successful on the outside but on the inside they are carrying unanswered questions about themselves that cause them to live without a sense of peace. Many become believers in Jesus. You would think that their struggles would cease at that point but often, they do not.
Many struggle with a lack of trust and feelings of security. They have had significant people in their lives who were supposed to be models of love, protection, and provision but who instead were unstable, unloving, untrustworthy, or absent emotionally or physically. The physical reality of the family of origin is designed to teach people to trust and feel secure. But in reality, broken and unhealthy families teach children that they cannot trust anyone, especially those who are in authority. The dysfunction of these families often leaves behind children that are anxious, obsessed, socially uncomfortable and insecure.
All of these problems stem from a family that is flesh and blood – one that they can see, touch, and hear. Now that they are believers, they are told to trust a God who they cannot see. This is often a “stretch” for them. They simply have to learn that God IS TRULY trustworthy, loving, and unchanging. Until this knowledge becomes a part of their experience, they struggle.
How prepared are you to walk with God? Did your family do a good job of preparing you to trust and walk with Him or do you have significant “gaps” when it comes to love and trust?
Ask God to give you the strength to walk in faith. Also, ask Him to put people in your life who, although imperfect are still loving and trustworthy. Don’t give up! God will heal you and teach you that although others can fail, He cannot and will not!
2. Unforgiveness toward self and/or others.
Due to disappointments and abuses, many carry unforgiveness toward those who have hurt them. This is a definite roadblock to receiving the peace and love that God has for the offended one. Unforgiveness usually carries with it a desire for vengeance toward the offender, a desire to protect oneself from further hurt, and many times, unrealistic views of life.
When you desire vengeance, you lose your peace and trust. When you seek to protect yourself from further pain, you “wall out” any scenario you deem potentially dangerous or risky, even if it could be coming to help you. When you seek to protect yourself, you take God’s role as Protector. After all, He needs help! He isn’t doing His job very well! This leads to scandalized faith and a fear of closeness.
When you carry unforgiveness, you can begin to make demands upon God and life that are not realistic. Even though this new “reality” that you build cannot be achieved because it doesn’t fit in our world, we use it to justify our anger and rage against God. Blaming God for the way the world is — is really not rational. This world is the way that it is because of humanity, not because of God. He didn’t create it the way that it is! It is the way that it is because of humanity’s rebellious decisions. Magical thinking will not solve our problems but divine intervention will.
Sometimes, self is the hardest person to forgive. We harbor resentment toward ourselves over actions we’ve done or omitted. We hate ourselves over other people’s failures, blaming them on a lack on our part. We exalt our opinions of worth and our solutions to problems over the wisdom, mercy, and love of an all-knowing, Almighty God!
People who hate themselves do not have peace. They work to sabotage themselves because they don’t deserve to have love. Unforgiveness is a problem that many believers struggle with.
If you are going to be free, you are going to have to realize there is Someone in this world who wants to extend undeserved grace to you. You must realize that abuses against you can affect you for the rest of your life only if you allow them to. Forgiveness is the key to receiving what you need and is the key to your freedom over what happened to you.
3. Priorities that are out of whack.
Even after receiving the Lord, many believers allow satan and the world to deceive them regarding what is priority. What are godly priorities?
a. My relationship with Jesus.
b. My relationship with my spouse, if applicable.
c. My relationship with my children, if applicable.
d. My immediate family relationships.
e. My responsibilities: job, education, volunteer hours, etc.
When these get mixed up, problems arise and the problems remain until these priorities are reorganized according to the Scripture. No one can do the reorganization for you: you must make the choice to do it yourself!
If you want to be blessed and find the true meaning of success, your priorities must be in scriptural order.
Believers, keep these three areas in mind. Not all struggles are a product of these three but many are. If you begin a struggle, check these areas for issues. If you do, it can save you a lot of time and assist you in getting to the solution quicker!
God bless you!!!