Sometimes I feel like the Very Worst Christian on the Planet because my faith seems to have grown more complicated as I’ve matured.

Instead of seeing God’s love and the way He’s working all things together for good in the midst of heartache and trial, I’m sad and angry. And, after all the ways God has shown up and showed off throughout my life – in baby rainbows and strawberry moons and a thousand other ways – I still wrestle with sin, doubt, and unbelief.

I’m thankful for the insight and encouragement Paul offers about sin in Romans 7:14-25.

“I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.”
(Romans 7:18b-20 NLT)

If a hero in the Bible who wrote a quarter of the New Testament wrestled with sin, who am I to think I won’t?

Our sin nature is tied to our humanity. We despise sin because our standard is perfection. Jesus. We want to please Him – we want to be like Him – and we’re incredibly hard on ourselves when we fall short. I don’t know about you, but I have never spoken as harshly to anyone the way I speak to myself.

What would happen if we offered the same grace and forgiveness to ourselves that we easily extend to others? 

Now sin, I can wrap my mind around, but it is doubt and unbelief that fuel my feelings of failure. Even though I know feelings can’t always be trusted, the lies they tell us are convincing. But condemnation isn’t the same thing as conviction. Condemnation is from Satan and focuses on our sin, making us feel guilty and ashamed. Conviction is a work of the Holy Spirit, prompting an awareness and sorrow of our sin and leading to repentance and reconciliation with God. Romans 8:1 tells us, “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.”

So, if condemnation is what I’m feeling, I can know it’s not from God.

When I feel like I’m failing God, I’m listening to the lies of an enemy who’s always and only against me, who delights in my despair. Just because I’m angry or sad or asking hard questions and wrestling with the answers, doesn’t mean I’m the worst. It’s honest. And telling the truth of my heart to God (which He knows, anyway) invites Him to speak into my life through His Word and the people who know and love Him.

And, what if it’s not my faith that has grown more complicated at all; just the reality of a complicated, hard season of life and the consequences of a very broken world?

The world around us can be hard. There are legitimate reasons we struggle in life and faith. Feelings and emotions ricochet like pinballs and rouse doubt, anger, questions, and confusion. And yet… and yet… we have a profound, open-ended invitation to trust God and His promises, right in the midst of our pain and fury.  

It is okay to question God’s plan, to cry out in frustration, and to wrestle with doubt. Raw emotion is not foreign to the pages of Scripture. In the Psalms, we see David pouring out his heart before God, expressing his anger, confusion, and lament. In the midst of intense suffering, Job challenged God and demanded answers. When we’re seeking God, our anger is not a sign of faithlessness but rather evidence of our deep longing for understanding and resolution.

The suffering among people I know and love has reached a level bordering on absurd. Though I’m not one to “borrow worry,” I’m at the place where I wonder, “What next?” If this is the case for you, too, I am so, so sorry. This isn’t how life was supposed to be.

Trials and tribulations loosen our grip on this world and set eternity in our hearts.  If you feel like you’re failing in your faith or have somehow disappointed God by how you’re responding to circumstances, welcome to the club.

Please keep reading at (in)courage to see where this goes, and don’t miss the comment thread! (Be sure to share your own thoughts.) Never have I realized it more that we’re less alone than we think in our struggles. This new book may be a great encouragement, too.

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