I’m writing this from a new mindset that is having trouble recalling my old mindset.
Not that I have a completely different mindset or don’t have the same frustrations. I often found myself frustrated with unanswered prayer. I had several heart issues that I begged and pleaded for God to change. It killed me as I journeyed along with no change.
I struggled for almost a decade with habitual sin. I would plead with God completely prone on the floor with shouts and tears begging and pleading for Him to take it away. I knew He had something greater for me. I knew He didn’t want me in my sin. I knew He was the only one strong enough to free me from my sin. There wasn’t anything I didn’t try to free myself from it. I gave up trying to save myself, I acknowledged my sin, I confessed my sin, I avoided my sin, I did everything… and still nothing. I knew God would surely get me through it, but I couldn’t see an end. The freedom only began when I inadvertently confessed my sin to a group of high schoolers who were struggling with the same thing (James 5:16). I immediately began to feel a freedom, a true freedom from a slavery that I could not free myself from. But not only was I no longer a slave, but I was a son… and now I know that I’m an heir (Gal 4:7).
I suffered for years with disbelief. I remember one time at a small group we were going around the room listing our prayer requests. I told them that I was struggling with disbelief (their disbelief in that moment over what I just said was probably stronger than my disbelief). Why would God love me like He says when I wallow in my filth? I wanted to believe these things, these promises of God, this love that not only overlooks my sin, but covers it completely… I did believe these things. My heart struggled with not being able to grasp these things and completely surrender to them.
A man took his possessed son to Jesus. He brought his son to Him. Then he basically said, “He’s been like this forever. If there’s anything you can do, please help us!” Jesus replied, “If you can? Everything is possible for him who believes.” Then the dad said, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Jesus healed the boy, but did He do it because of the dad’s belief… or his disbelief… or neither? I don’t know. But I found myself in this man’s shoes. “Look, Jesus. I’ve been like this for as long as I can remember. I’ve done everything I can. I’m turning to you because I have heard that you heal and I believe that you heal, so if you can do anything, please take pity on me and help me.” That was my disbelief. ‘My heart and my soul, I give you control, Consume me from the inside out, Lord.’ I begged and pleaded for God to work from the inside out. Anything I could do was merely skin deep. It required Him, in His own time. I hated that I was struggling with habitual sin and disbelief, but I should have boasted in my weaknesses… For when I am weak, then I am strong.
I also spent what seemed like an eternity struggling with a hardness in my heart. I felt like I had the head knowledge, acceptance, belief of who Christ was in my life, but there was a severe disconnect between my head and my heart. I knew these things to be true, but I didn’t have a heart that was drawn to the things of which God’s heart is drawn. I wanted to love the least, to seek the lost, and for my heart to break. I begged and pleaded and begged and pleaded… and struggled and struggled. It took God, in His time, to crush my heart. It was years before, one night, I broke down in tears in the Wal-Mart parking lot over the fate of one man’s soul I met in Turkey. I knew his fate, his situation, and the futility of his beliefs. I was pressed by knowing that this man was going to Hell… unless someone took it upon himself to build and develop a relationship with this man… which was very unlikely. God is developing in me a heart that is sensitive to what He wants, sees what He sees, and loves as He loves. He has pulled my heart to love inconveniently… love so much that I displace my immediate wants, plans, my entire self. And do it in such a way that I get myself stuck in a situation where God must act, because I am beyond my ability to love or provide. A heart that makes itself available to dive in, jump off, or drown in the unknown because My. God. Is.
I am filled with joy when I can look back at these things and see my perseverance (Rom 5:3,4). If I boast, I boast in Christ. Take heart in your weakness, your frustration, your suffering. There is no such thing as unanswered prayer, because God our Father hears our prayers and responds… beyond a ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ because He is faithful… and I can know, that in His sovereignty, He knows better than I do. Know the Lord’s faithfulness and boast in your weakness, your frustration, your suffering. He knows what He’s doing.
“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Cor 12:9-11