What is the relationship between my salvation and my sorrow? Many Christians struggle to harmonize the presence of the two realities in their lives. Their interaction often introduces a high level of insecurity in our relationship with God. This imbalance is one of the chief obstacles to experiencing victory and freedom in Christ. If I believe my suffering is a sign of my lack of faith or some other spiritual failure, that will have a deep impact on my self-perception and the type of prayer I engage in.
One particularly destructive manifestation of this type of spiritual experience is repeatedly asking for forgiveness for the same sin; or being hesitant to ask forgiveness when you have made the same mistake many times. We feel trapped in the cycle of sin, ask forgiveness, wondering if I am forgiven, commit the same sin, ask for forgiveness and so on. The situation is exacerbated when we find ourselves facing hardship of one type or other. Now we are in danger of linking the two experiences together and concluding the latter is caused by the former.
We feel trapped in the cycle of sin, ask forgiveness, wondering if I am forgiven, commit the same sin, ask for forgiveness and so on.
The Trap Self Condemnation
The most dangerous voice is the voice of our own hearts. The deepest and most dangerous condemnation is self-condemnation. Since no one knows us better than we know ourselves we often look upon our history of wrongdoing and convince ourselves that we have reached the point where repentance and confession of sin is not sufficient or that all the things happening to us is evidence of our spiritual lack.
The woman sick with a hemorrhagic disease had been struggling with the problem for twelve years. What was her state of mind all that time? Did she believe her bleeding was her fault? It does not appear she felt that way given her unshaken belief that just touching the hem of Jesus’ coat would bring her healing. She did not consider whether she was deserving of it or not!
The man at the pool of Bethesda was paralyzed for thirty-eight years, yet when Jesus told him, “rise, take up your bed and go home”, he promptly obeyed. What was his state of mind during all those years watching people looking down on him as they passed by? Did he engage in self blame or thought his faith was inadequate? His immediate response to Jesus suggests he did not.
Faith is not about what is happening to me or what I have been going through for however long a period. My spiritual experience must not be based on the night of pain and sorrow I am dealing with. The surety of Christ’s righteousness is not based on my success or failure in life’s ventures. The richness and quality of my experience with God is not restricted by the outward circumstances in which I live. It is only dependent on my willingness to believe that he loves me and that I am his own.
@ 2022 Conroy Reynolds, is author of God in the Night: How to get thorough when you can’t get over