Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Why Trust Issues are Human Issues

I tend to push people away then wait to see if they will come back. I put the people who love me on trial everyday, and even if they pass test after test I still keep them at a distance.

It is probably safe to say I have some trust issues. I could look back into my past and find turning points when I realized people couldn't be relied on as much as I thought. But the more I learn about people and about life, I realize my stories aren't much worse than others. In fact, many people have a much larger reasons to have trust issues than I do.

People who have been hurt don't have the monopoly on trust issues. Not if we look at the source of the problem.

Even if I made peace with all those who have hurt me in the past, I would still struggle with trust because the source of my problem is a lack of trust in God. If I can't trust the one who made me and who actually has control over everything, how will I ever learn to trust fallible people who will inevitably hurt me and will undoubtedly make mistakes?

The reality is that I think I am the only one I can trust.  I think I have more to offer myself than God has to offer, which means I am trying to be my own god. There really isn't a more comfortable way of looking at it: my trust issues are rooted in self-idolatry.

But I wasn't created to be autonomous. Adam was created by a God who wanted to live in communion with him then he was given another person (Eve) for community. No part of humanity was designed to be independent, but Adam and Eve tried to claim independence when they ate the fruit. Humans failed to trust God's words, and trust issues have been human issues ever since.

We all do it. We all let our pride and desire for independence take over, and we abandon God so we can trust ourselves instead of Him.

Unfortunately, refusing to trust God is not only idolatrous, it is disillusioned. Without Him, we would cease to exist. He is the very breath we breathe. We can choose to believe this, trust Him, and let Him heal us. Or we can keep living in the lie of independence and continue to suffer from trust issues.

The choice should be pretty obvious.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Suffering in Christian Community

This school year has been the hardest emotional time of my life. I have been struggling with anxiety and depression that bounces from being able to act completely normal to not knowing what my life is for.

All the while, I have been attending a Christian college. Perhaps this should have given me more comfort in the gospel, but, since some of the roots of my problem lie in social anxiety and feelings of rejection, I have felt like the burden was even stronger in this Christian environment.

I couldn’t relate to people in general, and all the people around me were Christians, so I reasoned that I couldn’t relate to Christians. And since I couldn’t relate, I didn’t like them.

Also, they seemed distant from what I was going through. Being told to read my Bible, or dwell on a verse, or think of God’s promises was all just advice to do something more. And I didn’t even have the energy to live.

Christians seemed so tuned out of my suffering. I made a distinction in my mind between Christ and Christians. Christ understood suffering and comforted me in mine because He had faced the deepest rejection and pain anyone could ever experience. But Christians just made rules, rejected people, prescribed answers, gave useless advice, smiled, laughed, made friends.

I couldn’t relate to Christians.

But this was extremely naïve thinking. Christians suffer. We all suffer. Some are just more overwhelmed by it in their particular stage of life. Some just deal with it differently.

God didn’t require me to join a college ministry or meet three new friends a week. But I needed to stop thinking poorly about His people. He calls us all to suffer with Him. And He promises all that He will be with them in every tear and every cry out for relief and every moment when you cannot stand.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Confronting the Sin Inside

I have seen darkness. I didn't see the suffering in Africa. I didn't lose a family member. This darkness didn't come from the outside world (though there is plenty darkness there). It came from me.

The Story

When I got a concussion last semester, all I could do was lay in my bed in a dark, quiet room. I had put so much hope in what I could accomplish, so when I could do absolutely nothing, I had to wrestle with where I found my value and identity. Did I have to believe I was worthless for two week?

I wish I could talk about how much I learned about my identity in Christ during those days. I wish I could say I dwelt on the promises of Scripture and God's goodness. But my prayers were very different.

"I HATE this, God. I am so mad at you. Why? Why would I need to go through this? This was not my plan."

Honesty with God was good. But eventually I became angry, bitter, cold, and hardened.

And I stayed there for months.

The Discovery

Going into the spring semester, I felt like I should have finally seen the blessing in my suffering. I wasn't enjoying being angry at God, but I also didn't know how to forgive Him. I was angry at God for not healing me, but I was also angry at myself for not trusting Him.

I doubted if I was even saved anymore. After all, I hated Christians, hated life, hated feeling badly, and hated anything that made me feel better.

It was like lifting a dead log that’s been sitting in the grass for too long and finding the disintegration going on underneath. Only I couldn't just drop the log, scream, and run away. The darkness and filth was in my heart.

The Hope

Maybe reading this, you are really annoyed with my self-centered view of darkness. How first-world can I be that looking at myself in the mirror is the worst suffering I have experienced? Don't I know the world is full of drought, abuse, slavery, and starvation?

I do realize the world is broken. But would you mind sitting here with me for a while? Take a moment to wonder if the worst things in life weren't out there, but in you and in me.

Why are we afraid to acknowledge the sin in our hearts when it is what separates us from God? It is literally a death sentence. Our sin, if left alone, can damn us for eternity.

Our culture will let you play the victim and make excuses for sin. But the Bible doesn’t.

"'None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.'…'Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.' 'There is no fear of God before their eyes.'… By works of the law no human being will be justified in His sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin." -- Romans 3:9-20

"Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you."  -- 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (emphasis added)

In the full understanding of our sin, we can also fully understand the depths of God's grace. The above passages conclude this way:

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins." -- Romans 3:23-25

"But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." -- 1 Corinthians 6:11

Confronting the problem of sin is so painful. But when you learn how bad you are, you learn the size of the gift you have been given. Let your recognition of sin be an opportunity to worship the one who paid the punishment for your sin so that you could become a child of God.