Struggling to read your Bible, pray or go to church? Do you look at other Christians and wonder if they struggle like you? You wonder if you are even a Christian. Others will use their busyness to excuse their slackness in committing to spiritual disciplines and still expect to grow in their faith. We want to bear fruit without abiding (John 15:5). Like the weary Christians in Hebrews, we are tempted to dismiss our confidence (Hebrews 10:35), questioning the authenticity of our faith or if running the race or fighting the good fight (2 Timothy 4:7) is in any way worth it.
I, too, have battled with studying God’s Word, scripture memorization has not come easy, and my life has been characterized by prayerlessness in many seasons. Yet, at other times, I have longed for more. I have desired much encouragement and truth for my weary soul. Like a wilting plant, I have been filled with unending thirst and a hunger for more. Does God hate us for struggling in these ways? What, then, is our hope for today and future days when our faith is weary and our hearts faint? How does the gospel of grace keep us afloat in the humdrum of our ordinary days?
Often, our fear of losing our faith or questioning our salvation stems from misunderstanding our role in our conversion and sanctification. Dr David Strain adds, “The duty of Christian faithfulness, properly understood, should be seen as our response to the faithfulness of God. But, of course, before we can speak of God’s faithfulness to us, we must first remember that God is supremely faithful to Himself.” He promises that when we believe and repent, he offers salvation (Romans 10:9-13, 1 John 1:9). However, we must reckon that it is Christ who works in us to actually believe and respond in repentance (Romans 2:4, Acts 11:18). Our repentance is a response of obedience to the call and the transforming power of the gospel; thus, we do not do it apart from His power and plan.
These are words of great comfort since we have confidence in knowing that it is God himself who started the good work in us, and he will therefore bring it to completion (Philippians 1:6). God promises to preserve and protect those whom he has saved. Nothing can separate us, the saved, from his love (John 10:27-28, Romans 8:31-38, 1 John 5:11-13). God is no man that he should lie (Numbers 23:19), “he always acts in perfect conformity to his own holy character and purpose. His singular objective is his own glory, and he is unfailingly faithful to that goal,” says Dr David Strain. If Jesus has said he will lose no one God has given him but will raise us up on the last day (John 6:39), we can rest in his precious words.
Today’s culture does not at all encourage the disciplines of perseverance and faithfulness. The vastness of information and knowledge and technological growth barely require us to try so hard. We cringe and murmur impatiently when the lights go off or the WiFi malfunctions. Think of a farmer. Whether there is rain or sunshine, a farmer tills his garden season in, season out. His faithfulness is constant, devoted and steadfast. However, we struggle to be spiritually faithful like farmers waiting for rain, like their lives depend on it. Everyday faithfulness characterizes a true Christian and goes hand in hand with perseverance. Jesus said only those who endure to the end would be saved (Matthew 24:13). This involves following Christ faithfully every day and persevering while trusting God to work in us. A believer’s perseverance is marked by faithfulness to the helpful spiritual disciplines that anchor him close to the father so that he grows in maturity. These practices do not save us but are helpful in our sanctification. God still calls us to follow him faithfully and to persevere even when we are struggling and our lives plodding.
God has given us the means to be faithful today, ten years from now, till He returns or calls us home. His Word, the church and prayer equip us to draw near (James 4:8) and remain rooted (Colossians 2:7) and hold fast to our confession of hope (Hebrews 10:23) regardless of our situation. Consider the words of Glenna Marshal, “Unless we commit to regular, daily faithfulness to Christ, we will be confessing our prayerlessness and dusty Bible covers for years to come.” The following are ways we can practically draw near to God.
- Delighting in God’s Word
The Psalmist in Psalm 1 likens a man who delights in God’s Word to a tree planted by streams of water. The tree yields fruit in season, and its leaves do not wither (Psalm 1:3). Believers who cling to God’s Word regardless of their season are like the tree planted by the streams of water. They do not wither, and God yields fruit in them (John 15:5). God’s Word is a place for receiving. My hope is that if you’re tired and hungry, you would stop trying to go without the life and food found in God’s Word. His Word is profitable for every season (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
- Ceaseless Prayer
It is difficult to pray when we are struggling. However, our struggles should all the more draw us to pray. Scripture encourages us to pray through all seasons (Ephesians 6:18, 1 Thessalonians 5:17). While we pray, we must note that God is not focused on a perfectly arranged prayer or one that is not grammatically flawed. God instead delights in sincere prayer, not just coherent words. He hears whether it is a lament, thanksgiving, or supplication prayer. Prayer is a means of grace God has provided us to pour out our weary, burdened souls (Matthew 11:28) before Him. He carried the burden of our sin upon himself to the cross, so we can trust him to carry our burdens today, for he indeed cares (1 Peter 5:7).
- Community and Accountability
We lie to ourselves when we imagine that we, as Christians and humans, can live in total independence and self-sufficiency. God, from the beginning, never intended for us to go through life alone. The writer of Hebrews exhorts us to uphold the regular gathering of the saints, stirring each other unto love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24-25). Our commitment to the local church is essential, not only for us but also for other believers. At the local church, we can confess sin (James 5:16) and sing songs (Ephesians 5:19) communally as we encourage our souls and listen to the preaching of God’s Word.
As your days, your strength shall be
As I conclude, the words of an encouraging hymn come to mind. The song reminds us to draw near when our faith is weak, for God shall supply all that we need. God has promised us himself and assures us that whatever he permits to happen in our lives, he will never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:8, Isaiah 41-10-13). God shall supply all that you need; Yes, as your days your strength shall be.