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Wrongfooted

How easy it is for us to trip up. A respected Christian friend tells me we can tell the quality of our walk with God by the extent to which we suffer for it. I am alarmed. My face watches her lips move, as she tries perhaps to explain, but all my attention shifts inward, searching for something that might be labelled suffering for my faith.

My ordinary life with its usual stress and distress doesn’t quite measure up. So I am temporarily derailed. I have been on a relatively smooth track recently, oiled by a newly discovered take on the the concept of faith. Faith has come to mean the opposite of worry, working-out-what-next, and telling God what needs to happen and how. If I really have faith, I don’t need to do all that any more.

Except now my Achilles heel of self-condemnation has yawned, stretched and got dressed for work. Once again I have to force myself not to let it in. To trust that God is in control and He may be using this to keep me honest.

A friend once told me that she feels closest to God when things are going well. At the time, I was surprised and almost shocked. I had, I realised, associated closeness to God with crying out to him in adversity. I simply did not associate him with joy or success or any of the stuff that feels good. I thought that true piety equals pain. Painful pain.

When challenged to audit my life for suffering, I began to leave the secret sunny garden of childlike faith I had recently found to return to the cold damp cloister where discomfort demonstrates you’re on the Way.

Because of my earlier ideas about God this felt right, even if it was disappointing. Even if it seemed to reopen the wound of anxiety. Here was a truly enormous thing for me to worry about.

But then I remembered who I’m meant to be looking at. Not myself. Not even my pious sister. She may not be wrong. But she may not have the whole picture.

4 thoughts on “Wrongfooted

  1. It IS amazing how easily we can get tripped up or distracted or put on a different path of thoughts (not always healthy) by another person’s comment. God gives us peaceful times, and walks with us through difficult times. No matter what, He is with us. Persecution or simply living – all for His glory. And we bear witness, we pour out, His love and grace and offer of salvation. But not only in suffering, but in all things, at all times. My two cents, anyway!

    • Thanks Peggy, I agree with you. I know that I know this and yet the words of others, especially those you know and respect, can cut across what I know. I have decided to cling to this peace I have found, even if I have to hang on by my fingernails… 😉

  2. Once again you seem to get inside my life and describe me. Phil. 4:11-13 came to mind. “11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” I know and believe the words, but living them is sometimes a struggle. The stories of those suffering and yet abounding in their faith just make me feel ashamed, but I need to remember that I am where God has placed me and rejoice in that whatever it may be and let that self-condemnation go away. A work in progress.

    • We’re all works in progress and thank God that He is the finisher and perfecter of our faith and not us. Pressure off! I agree it is much easier said than done, though. Thanks for reminding me of the Phil 4 scripture. Really apt and I wish I had remembered it at the time!

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