It was a week that beat me down. Divorce, transgenderism, homosexuality, cohabitation… You think I’m speaking of the culture issues “out there,” but these hit home in members of my close family and seemed to pummel my heart one heavy brick at a time this last week. One moment I had absolute joy in the hope of watching someone potentially being awakened to life by the Holy Spirit, and then in the next was utterly disheartened by the damning, damaging sin of another, and then next wounded by another with harsh, unkind words said to me, about me, by one whom I have practically rearranged my entire family’s life to serve, knocking the wind completely out of my sails and bringing me to tears.
It was all just too much.
I’m tired of fighting for truth, Jesus. I’m tired of speaking up. I’m tired of pouring into people, and even into my own heart. If no one comes to know you, if no one’s life is changed, then what’s the point?
Our sermon this week met me right where I was at. Disease. Yes, that word summed it all up. Sin is an all consuming, terminal, deadly disease, and I am not only surrounded by it on all fronts, it lives in me. I experienced it this week. I felt it this week. Outside of me and inside of me. And the battle of flesh and spirit was so defeating I wanted to quit.
“The only remedy is Jesus,” he said.
I know this, but he’s not showing up. My heart is breaking for souls that are consumed with this disease of sin and hearts that are in bondage. Isn’t that a right thing to pray for? I feel defeated. Why isn’t God answering?
And then came the next words, that John 20:30-31 is also for the believer. “But this gospel was also written for you, fellow believer, so that your faith would be strengthened. You need more strength.”
Yes. I need more strength.
Out of the seven “I am” statements that followed, the one that stood out was the one that hit me hardest when we heard it a few months ago. “I am the true vine.” Jesus is the vine, the source of life, and the Father is the vinedresser, the one who cares for and prunes it. It is outrageous for the branches to shake their fists at the vinedresser, “why are you trimming me?!” Who am I to question God’s ways and to distrust his methods and his results? The fruit is precious to the vinedresser. The wine is valuable. He doesn’t want his plant to die. He does what it takes to help it bear fruit.
God is pruning me because he loves me, and all around me, all the souls of the people I love are in His hands.
It is not up to me to save them, if even I could muster up an ounce of that kind of power. But it is worth pressing on. It is worth fighting the good fight because He is worthy. It is worth battling because I have the privilege of proclaiming the excellencies of Him who has called out of darkness into his marvelous light. The results of that proclamation are not my responsibility, and at the same time, my hurt feelings and fractured relationships in the fight are not inconsequential. God cares, and he ordains these things for reasons I do not know and cannot always understand. At minimum I know and can trust they are for my good, for my pruning.
Some weeks life is just hard. But Jesus is not unaware; he is not absent. For the believer he has given us himself and he has given us his word that we may remember, and that we might be strengthened.
From the words of our sermon:
“Dear believer what you need today, tomorrow, and everyday for the rest of your life is to have Jesus Christ made bigger and bigger in your hearts. He must increase, you must decrease. That’s why John wrote this gospel. v.31 ‘these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name’….To have eternal life is to have Jesus Himself. Mere existence will never satisfy you. Eternal existence by itself is not good news. There is only one thing that will ever satisfy you; only one thing that will ever increase your joy; only one thing that will strengthen you when all around your soul gives way; and that is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. That’s what true life is.”
"And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent." John 17:3
More in The Well Blog
February 22, 2018Beat Down
February 20, 2018A Biblical Theology of the Temple: The Presence of God in the Babylonian Exile (Part 4)
February 6, 2018My Pastor Calls Me a Failure