Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
I just moved; it was definitely a pretty bad experience. I’m not even sure how that much can go wrong in that short of a period of time, and yet it did. I’m still feeling the effects of it all…and I’m still a little in my feelings. Like really God? This situation was highly inconvenient and costly. Was this necessary? Personally, I don’t think so, and I’m sure there are those of you judging me for writing this. That’s cool. I’m not bothered by it. Love’s an Action is about honesty, and honestly, I wasn’t interested in the struggle.
So in a moment of self-reflection, I’d like to give my thoughts on what I’ve learned as it pertains to providing spiritual encouragement in the midst of the struggle.
Here are my four tips for providing spiritual encouragement
- Stop trying to rationalize the pain. As Christians, I think this is some twisted road map to justify our faith to others. We need to be able to combat the argument of how could God love us and not spare us from the pain. There are two schools of thought that are prevalent as it pertains to God’s love and our outcomes. The first says we aren’t doing something right should life around us go wrong. When we do good, we get good. Not true.
While there will always be people parading around “blessings” on the notion that they have done what’s right, Romans 3:23 reminds us “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. There isn’t a clearly defined reason for every situation. How we respond is what matters more. So don’t get caught up in those parading around their blessings without a side of humility. They too will fall. It just won’t be captured on Facebook.
The second is that the struggle is mandatory to having a deeper relationship with God. How are the angels having a relationship with God then? Isn’t Heaven a sin-free zone? Well, Earth isn’t. In fact, Earth is a pain-central zone due to sin, but we never needed sin to know God. What we go through builds character and elicits growth, but more than anything, the time we spend getting to know God is what builds our relationship. It’s about finding Him through every situation. I’ll come back to this, but first, I need to address my next point.
- Stop contributing to spiritual anxiety. I have found myself less and less open about my struggles, simply because that’s when I get the advice of… well, when you’re trying to do good, more challenges will come. Pause. So by trying to do right, I’m about to set myself up for a life of pure pain. Umm. No thank you. This type of rationale makes us fear the good, because that must mean a flood of terrible storms are just around the corner. Who wants to live like that? Not me. Not you. Not anyone.
Sometimes, the storms will come. Let’s stop tying them to good, as if your current situation is now a punishment for trying to live a righteous life. Storms are tied to sin, and we should remember where we live. If we really believe that good and bad exists on this Earth, then we should remember that Job experienced pain because of where he was. Job would have never been chosen if he hadn’t lived where you and I live, a battleground of good and bad. And I have to remind myself that God is stronger, so no matter how hard bad knocks on the door, there is no need to fear what’s next. If we acknowledge the source of the problem, we can better understand how to access God as the source of the solution.
- So let’s stop telling people it’s all going to work out. It will all come together, by God’s grace, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to work out in the way we intended. We should also not follow this up with spiritual fear too, as if every situation is some type of Job test and if we fail, we are miserably doomed. Spiritual encouragement is about honesty. The bad days will come, and when they do, they will hurt. No matter how much growth comes out of a situation, the damage that is done is still felt. We’re going to spend some days sleeping on hard floors wondering why the mattress couldn’t come earlier. Well, because that is life. Maybe we should’ve planned better. Maybe it wasn’t in the cards for us. Maybe life isn’t fair. Reasons vary, but the result is the same. Tonight, you may be sleeping on the floor. Don’t let spiritual entitlement fool you into thinking you are beyond the floor. If not, God will serve you concrete. So close your eyes, and ask for what you need to make it through the night.
So what’s the point of the struggle?
I said I would come back to point number 1, and here it is: surviving the storms isn’t for God, it’s for us. It’s a side effect of where we are, and our growth helps us to better manage the now, understanding this isn’t the forever. I’ve come to learn that sustainable spiritual growth doesn’t really come from watching God make the impossible, possible. Instead, those moments serve as reminders that we are on the path God intended for us to be.
Furthermore, our greatest sense of conviction may not come from God carrying us through the pain either. Once we’ve made it through, we’re at risk of losing that conviction. Instead, it has to come from consistently experiencing God’s love in all of its many facets so we understand who God is, and by knowing who He is, we can respect the outcomes without liking them. We realize the two aren’t one in the same, and that’s okay.
When providing spiritual encouragement to others, please understand, God hasn’t asked us to be void of our emotions; He wants us to be rulers over them. We hurt. We cry. We get frustrated. It’s okay. Have your moment. Just don’t let it own you. You’ve got God on your team, and whether or not you realize it in the moment, trust me, in the long run, He will be enough.Print This Devotional