On an October Sunday this past Fall, a strong negative feeling of discouragement started to overwhelm me. I felt that whatever kind of ministry I did for the Lord was worth nothing and I was a useless Christian. For a while these feelings were like a whirlpool from which there was no escape.
Too often, when I have such annoying or uncomfortable feelings, I want to quickly escape from them; trying to push them aside or shut them down as quickly as possible to escape any pain. But when I do that, I don’t thoroughly understand what’s going on in my heart and I miss the opportunity to really grow.
On this fall Sunday afternoon, one means of escape would have been to watch a good football game. But with a miserable Jets game on one channel and a horrible Giants game on the other, there was no escape. I was forced to deal with what I was experiencing. What did it mean? What exactly was making me feel so worthless? What was God trying to show me, and how could he help me?
This is where the Lord drew me to Romans 12:3 and it came alive :For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.
But you may ask, how does feeling low and discouraged mean you are thinking too highly of yourself? Here’s why: it’s thinking that what’s going on in my life all depends on me and not on God.
If I know what my true strengths and true weaknesses are before God, then I can better resist whenever there is an onslaught of negativity, a lie that contradicts God. When negativity arises, I like how God invites us to spew out our frustrations to him:
I pour out before him my complaint;
before him I tell my trouble.
Listen to my cry,
for I am in desperate need; (Psalm 142:2,6)
I start taking my reactions to the Lord in prayer. But it’s not just me and God.
Because many who are reading this are brothers and sisters are going through the same thing. I am not the only one who wrestles with the gap between where I am and everything that God wants me to be. In the above Psalm David continues in verse 7: Set me free from my prison, that I may praise your name. I love this — for I know that God will respond! By admitting our shortcomings and not hiding from them, God begins to turn around even our bad reactions to build more of Christ in us.