James 4 The Message (MSG)
“4 1-2 Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves. You lust for what you don’t have and are willing to kill to get it. You want what isn’t yours and will risk violence to get your hands on it.
2-3 You wouldn’t think of just asking God for it, would you? And why not? Because you know you’d be asking for what you have no right to. You’re spoiled children, each wanting your own way.
4-6 You’re cheating on God. If all you want is your own way, flirting with the world every chance you get, you end up enemies of God and his way. And do you suppose God doesn’t care? The proverb has it that “he’s a fiercely jealous lover.” And what he gives in love is far better than anything else you’ll find. It’s common knowledge that “God goes against the willful proud; God gives grace to the willing humble.”
7-10 So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.”
As harsh as this verse is–I love it’s bluntness. None of us if we’re honest enjoy the struggle. We want it fast and with the fewest roadblocks. But that’s not the life we signed up for or the world in which we live.
I was thinking the other day just about my life and the pain I’ve overcome. Not many years ago (even as a Christian) I wondered why my sorrow wasn’t going away, why I felt like God saw my misery but didn’t remove it and overall why I didn’t feel like He spoke to me.
Now I feel close to God, I hear Him and although there’s always more that I could grow in proximity and intimacy with Him–I am not where I once was.
My revelation for today is that you need to trust your struggle.
What I mean is that you might not be doing anything wrong or to deserve it and then again maybe you are holding on to toxic relationships or negative thought patterns. Regardless we can trust our struggle. Whether we want it or not Jesus is obsessed with us. He is that ex who wants you back or that person you never gave a try. Think about it like the phrase “nice guys finish last”. He isn’t going anywhere. He is willing to wait for you to exhaust all other options, travel the world, entertain hobbies, etc and when you got that all out of your system He will finally catch your attention.
I specifically remember saying to my mother once that I wanted God but I wanted to have other things too. Things He couldn’t satisfy. I think I was in my teens. But yeah. Things like hand holding or listening to my crazy stories and laughing. Tangible human things. Or I really wanted to write. And that seemed like a passion outside of what God could do.
But over time, I learned that everything I wanted ended up being crap. I didn’t find enjoyment in writing for years, I haven’t had a healthy dating relationship, and the list could go on. I’ll spare you. And honestly most days I don’t care what I don’t have. I’m human so there are days where you desire things again but for the most part everything looks less shiny.
The one thing that hasn’t dulled is Jesus. If I said this to my bitter younger self she would have rolled her eyes but it’s the truth. And I can’t roll my eyes at myself because I’ve lived it.
If you feel disillusioned with God or life in general today–I get it. Oh boy do I get it. But let me remind you that your struggle is paving the way for your strength. There will be pain, there will be heaving tears, sleepiness nights, anxiety, feelings of anger but this isn’t betrayal or the end of the world. It’s actually the start of something better.
Think of it like a baby chick. You grow and grow inside an egg and eventually you’re too big for the shell. You’re used to living in it but you have changed and it’s natural that it has become too small for you. The shell cracks. You might not want to break it completely open but the more you move the more cracks form. What you really ought to do is open your eyes and look around at all you couldn’t visualize or get to by staying inside that space.
The same is for us. Wanting a career, marriage, etc are not bad things. What’s bad is wanting them more than God. He wants us more than anything else and He created all things. Like any relationship you want to be wanted. You don’t want it to be lopsided. If these are feelings we have in human relationships but we are made in God’s image so where do you think we got it from?
If you are in the midst of your struggle know that you are in the process of awakening to the fact that nothing will satisfy. Any control you thought you had is a lie. Any person or thing you had on a pedestal is faulty. God wants to keep you secure. And the only person who can come through consistently and supply every need is Him.
The struggle is paving the blessing.
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