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When Struggles Strain Your Relationship with God

Here’s What To Think And What To Do When You Feel Like Gideon.

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You will face disappointment today. I will too. When these frustrations shove their way in as unwelcome guests, the promise of God’s presence with us often feels thin. That’s just what Gideon thought.

When Struggles Strain Your Relationship with God

(Photo: Ophrah, where the Lord met with Gideon. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Frequently, we respond to these disappointments like Gideon did while at Ophrah:

If the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? (Judg. 6:13).

We say this (or think it privately) because we have a firm opinion of what God being “with us” looks like.

No pain.

But such a view treats the Bible like a buffet lunch where we pick and choose what we want to swallow about God. When we do that, the plate we hold in our hands represents a god in our image—a freak unlike the God whose tells us His ways are not like ours.

Why would we want to worship a God we can control or understand? Where is the awe in that?

There’s a better way to think about it—and a better way to respond.

God With Us—Really?

No part of the life we live will work well without faith. That’s because God uses the hard seasons in our lives to develop our character. And the definition of character means more than mere morality.

Character finds itself inseparably linked to our relationship to God.

How do we deepen our relationship with God?

When Struggle Strains Your Relationship with God

We can’t choose the ways in which we will struggle. God chooses those. But we can choose how we respond to those struggles. It involves thinking and doing.

1. What to think in the midst of struggles:

Remember that our struggle has meaning, but we don’t have to understand the meaning. In fact we can never fully grasp it. But not understanding the struggle has nothing to do with understanding that the struggle has a purpose—moreover, a good purpose. That’s God’s promise.

Ophrah, Tell Afula, where Gideon met with God

(Photo: Ophrah, Tell Afula, where Gideon met with God. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

When we find ourselves dissatisfied with life or with what God has us doing, it could reveal that we’ve confused our significance in serving God with our significance to God.

  • Our relationship with God remains more important to Him than our ministry for him. That is huge.
  • We serve God from the overflow of our relationship with Him, not as an aside to it.

If we have a shallow relationship with God, why would He enlarge the problem? Why grow the branches if the roots can’t support them?

2. What to do in the midst of struggles:

  • Choose to respond well to the trials He allows by choosing to obey and to trust no matter what.
  • If we don’t learn the lessons the first time around, we return and learn again. And again.

Like a grade-school flunky, we will continue to wrestle against the fact that 2+2 has only one answer. Until we get it, we’ll never advance to fractions or algebra.

When we get frustrated that our lives seem to accomplish nothing or that our ministry bears little fruit, we need to review our motives for life and ministry. Rather than merely measure productivity and activity, we need to value the little things—like intentions, faithfulness, and faith.

Often our disappointments are God’s appointments for the growth that we long for.

Tell me what you think: What struggles most strain your relationship with God? To leave a comment, just click here.

Waiting on GodLike This Post? Get the Whole Book!

This post is adapted from Wayne’s book, Waiting on God: What to Do When God Does Nothing.

• What do you do when the life God has promised you looks nothing like the life he has given you?

If you find yourself waiting on God—or if you don’t know what God wants you to do next—this book offers a wise and practical guide to finding hope and peace in life’s difficult pauses.

You will discover what to do when it seems God does nothing.

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