I received this letter this morning from a very good friend. It’s such a good reminder, no matter what you’re going through, never give up on God. (Of course I added random cute pics of Melody)
I wanted to drop you a note to encourage you not to give up on God, not to give in to “stinkin thinkin”, but to strive to determine how to walk with Him through your difficulties. By now you should know where “stinkin thinkin” originates.
Val, we live in a broken world. Broken by the impact of generations of sin. Then we are saved and God leaves us in that world, vs. taking us right out of it. And, for the most part, we are not excused from many aspects of that broken world once we are saved. We are saved from our sins, and set right with God, because of our faith in what Jesus did on the cross to pay for our sins. We aren’t saved from our “stuff” or our “junk”, we are saved from the wrath of God that comes on us because of our sin. There will still be “junk” in the world and with all of us people continuing to contribute to it. People relationships, our relationship to our selves, even the physical world around us are all “broken”. In Christ, God heals the brokenness between us and Him, and as we trust and obey Him, the Spirit restores that relationship toward what we were created to live in with Him. But we can also live above the broken world in Christ. And as we do that, some of the impact of the world will abate, and more importantly, God will give us peace in the middle of the brokenness.
Examples of brokenness: I have a friend who has 6 or 7 different forms of cancer simultaneously and she will die shortly. I have a friend who dropped dead in the shower just shy of being 50 years old and left his wife and 3 children behind. I have friends who have gambling, alcohol, and lust addictions which, if they let them get a foothold in their lives, will be ruined by them. I have a friend with MS who is getting progressively worse and probably will die from it. I have friends that suffer from depression, some from bi-polar disorder, and on and on. Each of these people is saved. And each walks through life one day at a time trying to honor, obey, trust and follow God in Christ. Two steps forward, one back. One forward, two back. They “press on, toward the goal of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Phil3. Others don’t have the physical or psychological challenges, but have circumstancial challenges that make life hard. And then some just seem to be excused from difficulty and lead “charmed” lives and everyone hates them for it :).
No matter who we are, there is always someone who has an easier set of circumstances and someone with a more difficult set of circumstances. But that is largely irrelevant as we tend to use comparison in warped, dysfunctional and generally unhelpful ways. Certainly ways that don’t help us to trust, obey, follow and honor the God who delivered us from our sin in Chirst so that we could follow Him through whatever circumstances we are saved into in this broken world.
Bottom line? If the conditions of life suck from the time of salvation on, it doesn’t matter. We got the one necessary thing right, and that is to get right with God for now and eternity. Jesus said that someone could have a wonderfully pleasant life and miss this one necessary thing and end up in hell for eternity. They will have existed in pleasantness, but will never have lived with God in Christ. Life’s circumstances were largely unpleasant for the disciples and Paul. But they “fought the good fight, they finished the race, they kept the faith and for them was laid up the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to them on that day, and not only to them but to all who loved His appearing.” II Timothy 4.
Bottom line of everyone’s life is that we do what we can, where we are, with what we have, and “press on toward the goal of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus”. God loves us so much that He accepts us as we are, but He loves us too much to leave us there. He will grow us through the difficulties if we let Him. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1;9. There is always a way out of temptation that we can stand up under it.” I Corinthians 10:13
God promises He will walk with us through eating disorders, or through whatever challenges we find oursleves. And the myriad of other conditions in which saved people find themselves. In the middle of the difficulty, He says He will show us the way out of sinful responses into responses that glorify Him more and more. Occasionally, a person gets delivered from issues like heroine addiction instantly upon salvation, or upon someone praying over them. More often, and more typically, God choses to be glorified in our weakness, which is hard, but God will give peace in the midst of it. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. Our lives are powered by confession and forgiveness and then progress toward being remade in the image of Christ moment by moment.
My encouragement to you, Val, my challenge to you, is to figure out the way of escape from a sinful response to your difficult situation. I Corinthians 10:13. The knee jerk response to pain and difficulty is to avoid it, deny it, escape from it, become embittered over our situation, or at least to whine about it. But the “godly person disciplines him/herself for the purpose of godliness”. You’ve been a personal trainer, probably of the “No Pain, No Gain” school of thought. And “bodily discipline is of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things since it holds promise in the present life and also in the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:7&8. Figure out the “way of escape” and “Just Do It!”. When you blow it, confess it, pick up where you were getting it right, determine what was helping you get it right, and press on.
Back to “Stinkin Thinkin”. You have practiced thinking that is a sinful reaction complaining against God. Thinking that is practiced over and over again becomes a habit or a “knee jerk reaction”. The challenge becomes then, when confronted by failure in your eating program, what set of thoughts can you discipline yourself to run down which will honor, praise, and glorify God? How can you trust, obey and follow Him at that moment? How can you resist the enemy, reject his thoughts, and rebuke him out of your mind and soul? You can talk to your parents, to Geralyn, or a Christian counselor, to figure out how to replace “stinkin thinkin” with the response of a person who is striving to honor God.
And then the personal trainer in you should kick in. Never give up…Failure is not an option…there is too much at stake! Confess whatever should be confessed, claim the truth that you’ve found needs to be claimed about yourself and the situation, and move on. Know that the only opinion of you which counts, that which God holds, is settled forever in Christ. And that you, a daughter of the King, are precious in His sight, now and forever. So precious that He would suffer for your sins and die on a cross to pay for them, so that you could be set right with Him forever.
Joyce Meyer has built a ministry to thousands of people hammering home this principle (and others) in her charming, unassuming, and easy going way :).
Val, you never need to come back to our group. And I’m not saying all of this to get you to stay in the group. The group doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you figure out what it means to walk with God through your circumstances around this food thing. What matters is that you figure out how to do that and live purposefully, disciplining yourself for the purpose of godliness. What matters is that you learn who you are in Christ, who you are as a daughter of the King, who you are as a temple of the Holy Spirit, and assume that new identity.
So, work to figure it out, “Just Do It!” and bury Ed once and for all. If he comes out of the grave hammer him with the shovel of prayer in the authority of Jesus and put him back where he belongs.
Your Friend in Christ”
Thank you, Mike.