Let’s be honest; there are many frustrated Christians in our churches. They are frustrated with God because their life experiences are at odds with the promises concerning them in the Bible. Sadly, we often lack the courage of someone like Gideon, who questioned an angel about God’s faithfulness [Judges 6:13], to confront the disparity between what is preached or confessed in church and our lived experience. So, we seldom talk about it openly, even though there are many quietly thinking: “…this isn’t working”. A failure to address these thoughts could lead to apathy. It could also make us hypocrites because we’ll only pay lip service to our confessions if we don’t believe them. Worse still, our indifference and unbelief could result in apostasy.
I think what’s sadder is that many Christians experiencing frustration in their Christian walk genuinely honour God. They would probably say they love God and are committed to their faith. But they can’t point to any enviable advantage resulting from their Christian walk. While we don’t pursue God for things or what He can do for us, something in us desires some results which justify our pursuit of God. Results aren’t everything, but they provide a measure of encouragement to our Christian experience, giving us the confidence to press on. Conversely, many are understandably discouraged when results are lacking, and the abundant life promised by Jesus seems abstract. Moreover, God created us to be rational creatures, so there’s only so much disappointment we can withstand in our Christian experience before we disavow our beliefs.
It’s worth stressing that Jesus never said that we wouldn’t have challenges in life. On the contrary, He guaranteed we would face difficulties [John 16:33]. So, what should make Christians unique isn’t a lack of challenges but how we triumphantly overcome them. That’s because God equips us with all we need to overcome the difficulties of life [2 Peter 1:3] and empowers us with His Spirit [Romans 8:11]. We know this, but what’s often lacking is the ability to translate the victory we profess to have in Christ into our lived experience. That knowledge essentially determines the quality of our Christian experience. Those who know how to make God’s word a reality for themselves will reign in life. Their lives will be a marvel; they’ll bear much fruit, and in doing so, glorify their heavenly Father [John 15:8].
It’s God’s heart and will for all His children to bear fruit and glorify Him with their lives [Isaiah 43:7]. But what’s often overlooked, or understated, is that we have a role to play in making God’s will for us a reality. I heard a preacher say recently that in God’s kingdom on earth, knowledge precedes results. It’s difficult to object when the Bible repeatedly instructs us to seek knowledge [Proverbs 15:14, 18:15, 2 Peter 1:5, 3:18]. Consequently, every Christian should abhor ignorance because it has severe consequences [Hosea 4:6]. The areas of ignorance in your life are typically those areas God’s word isn’t a reality for you yet. Making what God desires for us a reality requires us to know His will, understand it and possess the spiritual wisdom to make it our reality [Colossians 1:9-10].
It might be tough to accept, but it’s often the case that something we know or don’t know is responsible for where we find ourselves. However, the good news is that we can change our story. There’s a way out of the frustration [Jeremiah 6:16]. It’s an ancient path, successfully tried and tested by our spiritual ancestors [Hebrews 6:12]. It will require effort and perseverance from us, but God’s integrity guarantees the results [Psalm 138:2]. I don’t write as someone who has made God’s word a reality in every aspect of his life. Instead, I write as someone who has experienced the frustration of hearing promises that aren’t evident in my life. While I’ve had some measure of results, my ignorance in certain areas of life is pretty glaring to me.
Paul, writing to the Church in Rome, reminded the faithful that Scripture was written for our instruction so that through its encouragement and our endurance, we would find hope [Romans 15:4]. In the Old Testament, which Paul was referencing in that letter, we find several characters whose lives are patterns for us. Abraham’s life, for instance, isn’t just a pattern for living in faith, but it’s also a pattern of what it means to be blessed by God [Isaiah 51:2]. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel since there’s nothing new under the sun [Ecclesiastes 1:9]. Someone else has already been through the circumstance we’re struggling with, and in Scripture is a divinely-inspired path to victory if we patiently and diligently seek it [Hebrews 11:6b]. Therefore, like Paul, I commend you to God and His word of grace, which can give you an inheritance among His saints [Acts 20:32]. Do we trust God to reach for all He has for us?
One last thing. The Bible isn’t like any other book. It’s possible to study it and never come to understand what is written in it [2 Timothy 3:7]. Scripture is sealed to both the learned and the unlearned [Isaiah 29:11-12] until the Spirit of God empowers us to understand it [Job 32:8]. Therefore, we must approach God’s word prayerfully, with patience and humility, imploring the Holy Spirit to teach us the ways of God and make these ancient paths known to us so that we may walk in them [Psalm 25:4, 27:11]. When (not if) God answers that prayer, you’ll find yourself triumphant over the circumstances of life, and God will spread the fragrance of the knowledge of Him in your sphere of influence [2 Corinthians 2:14].