Romans 7:18-21 18For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot perform it. [I have the intention and urge to do what is right, but no power to carry it out.] 19For I fail to practice the good deeds I desire to do, but the evil deeds that I do not desire to do are what I am [ever] doing. 20Now if I do what I do not desire to do, it is no longer I doing it [it is not myself that acts], but the sin [principle] which dwells within me [fixed and operating in my soul]. 21So I find it to be a law (rule of action of my being) that when I want to do what is right and good, evil is ever present with me and I am subject to its insistent demands.
I chose this passage today for one very simple reason. Paul- the apostle, writer, teacher, and virtual saint is completely transparent that there are times that he struggles. In 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 he tells the Corinthians 8For we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about the affliction and oppressing distress which befell us in [the province of] Asia, how we were so utterly and unbearably weighed down and crushed that we despaired even of life [itself]. 9Indeed, we felt within ourselves that we had received the [very] sentence of death… In the midst of writing ¾ of the New Testament, Paul also talks about his struggles and his troubles.
Last night I encountered a situation where I was completely frustrated, a little discouraged, and even somewhat irritated. I started to vent my frustration, but I stopped myself because I thought, “I can’t say that. I’m the pastor’s wife. I’m not supposed to have bad days. I’m supposed to always be positive and encouraging. ” Has anyone else ever put that pressure on themselves? You might be in ministry and feel that you have to always be strong for those you minister to. You might be saved and everyone at work knows it, so how can you express that your world is falling apart without discrediting God? You might be the only Christian in your family so how can you tell your loved ones your marriage is hitting a rough patch when you are supposes to be the Godly example? You might be the mom in the neighborhood that everyone else thinks is perfect, so how do you explain that financially your family is in trouble, and that you are having a hard time with your kids? You might be someone who is always encouraging others, so how can tell others that you are now the one who needs encouragement. These are all hypothetical situations but are probably more real than we think.
Last night I came to the conclusion that it’s okay to be real. Generally I am a pretty optimistic person, but there are times when I do feel overwhelmed with life. There are times I feel like screaming. There are times I don’t understand things. There are times when I’m sad. There are times when I’m angry. There are times when I’m lonely. There are times when I want to go on a vacation by myself for about two weeks and just get away from everyone. There are times when I really want to punch someone in the face, or tell them off. There are times when I feel so much pressure I’m not sure I can take anymore, and then guess what? More shows up! There are times I don’t do the things I should, and there are times I do the things I shouldn’t.
BUT- in the midst of being real I think it’s also important to do what Paul did in the passage in 2 Corinthians 1. He said, “Yes, I went through a time when I was oppressed, distressed, crushed and pretty much wanted to pack it all in.” In verses 9-10 however, he continues ….but that was to keep us from trusting in and depending on ourselves instead of on God Who raises the dead. 10[For it is He] Who rescued and saved us from such a perilous death, and He will still rescue and save us; in and on Him we have set our hope (our joyful and confident expectation) that He will again deliver us [from danger and destruction and draw us to Himself].
Paul shows us that although there will be seasons in life where we don’t have it altogether, that God’s grace will be sufficient for us in our times of weakness. What an encouragement to know that as real as we can be about what we might be going through, that we can also use our struggles and inabilities to showcase the greater abilities of the One who lives inside of us!