Life as a Christian is not all sunshine and roses. There are definite struggles. Just because I have a deep joy and hope that I am saved through the grace of God, I still have very real and very hard issues in my life…and quite often, I feel like I’m drowning.
“Drowning”…that was the title of the sermon at church today. Today’s sermon was one of those where I personally felt like my pastor was speaking directly to me, like God put every word he spoke into his mouth because I needed to hear it…it was actually a bit eerie.
The past few weeks I’ve felt like I’ve been drowning – like I’ve been crying out to a God who hasn’t been listening – like no matter what I’ve tried, I haven’t been able to get my head above water to catch a breath.
Psalm 69:1-3 – 1Save me, O God!
For the waters have come up to my neck.
2 I sink in deep mire,
where there is no foothold;
I have come into deep waters,
and the flood sweeps over me.
3 I am weary with my crying out;
my throat is parched.
My eyes grow dim
with waiting for my God.
Drowning should drive me to prayer. It’s weird, sometimes when my life seems to be falling apart and the control freak inside of me is panicking because I can’t hold it all together, sometimes I don’t want to go to God because I am angry or frustrated with Him because I don’t understand my circumstances. But in reality, that’s when I need to run to Him most. He wants me to bring my doubts and questions to Him. He already knows that I’m thinking them, I might as well be honest with Him about it instead of just holding onto it and letting it fester inside of me.
One thing I’ve realized about myself is that when I go to God with my doubts and my questions, when I actually form my thoughts into words, I realize how childish and selfish I’m being. I realize that I’m usually just acting like a child who isn’t getting her way. Not to say that my circumstances can’t often be frustrating or discouraging, but that I often have a bad attitude about the circumstances because they’re not how I want them.
Psalm 69:16-18 – 16 Answer me, O Lord, for your steadfast love is good;
according to your abundant mercy, turn to me.
17 Hide not your face from your servant;
for I am in distress; make haste to answer me.
18 Draw near to my soul, redeem me;
ransom me because of my enemies!
Drowning drives me to consider my purpose. My purpose in this life is not to just be happy and live an easy life. In fact, as a Christian, it is the exact opposite. Although I will receive blessings in my life as a result of obedience to God, God also promises me that I will experience struggles and suffering – what matters is how I choose to respond to it. Am I willing to move beyond my own narrow view of myself to use my suffering to help someone else? If I will allow God to use me, if I will follow where He leads, I can turn around and use my affliction to serve others.
This is something I’ve seen mostly within Celebrate Recovery. I enjoy serving others around me and reaching out to other people who are just as broken as I was when I first came to know who Christ is. Whenever I think that God cannot use whatever my current circumstances are, he throws me into so ridiculous situation where He reminds me that I can serve others using my greatest weaknesses and struggles.
Psalm 69:32-33 – 32 When the humble see it they will be glad;
you who seek God, let your hearts revive.
33 For the Lord hears the needy
and does not despise his own people who are prisoners.
Drowning will be reversed. God will redeem me from my pain and brokenness, Jesus died to save me from my own sin. He has a plan for me and for my life. Yes, there will be struggles and suffering, but He is still there with me. He still hears my prayers and catches my tears. I simply have to trust Him.
One of the things my pastor said this morning that really stuck out to me was: when I feel alone, like God isn’t hearing my prayers, think of my baptism and what that resembles. In baptism, the old me had to die so the new me could have life…the old me has been drowned and the new me lives.