A while back, I met with a pastor to get some advice about how to conduct ministry on GivenLife.com. His advice was to go ahead and pray for people, but not to give people advice. I think that not giving advice was good advice…BUT: Sometimes people will email me through GivenLife.com, not asking for prayer. They are asking for advice. A case in point, I recently receive an email through the website from a woman we’ll call Jill:
I’ve been struggling a lot lately with my faith. I’m confused.
Why won’t God heal me and take away the desires of porn and celebrity idols from my life?
I can’t find satisfaction in Him or in reading the Bible even though I pray for Him to open my mind and soften my heart for His teachings. I don’t have joy or peace, no matter how many times I repent. I feel like a hypocrite in church and sometimes get mad that other Christians have it together and can hear His voice or have visions or see signs from Him when I struggle just talking to Him.
Is that normal? I try not to hold anything back when I’m worshiping or repenting and I get emotional quite often, but then I wonder if it’s really the Holy Spirit evoking these emotions or just my flesh. How do I know the difference? How can I find excitement in Him? How can I fight temptations and live a hundred percent for Him? I just need help, I’m too ashamed and embarrassed to address my parents or people at church.
Here we have the added complication of a female asking for advice. I don’t want to get anywhere near a situation where I’m emailing a woman going through a difficult time about very personal issues. So, I think the best thing I can do in this situation is to blog about it.
Here’s what I almost emailed to Jill:
Thank you for your email. First, let me just admit that I don’t have all the answers. No one does. If we had all the answers, we would never have to walk in faith, right?
Try not to compare your life to other people in church. They may look like they have it all together, but trust me, they’re struggling too. God regularly reminds me to worry about myself and I think of this awesome YouTube video and laugh at how often I find myself poking my nose where it doesn’t belong:
Know that due to the enemy of our souls and our own stinking flesh, we’ll always battle with unholy thoughts and impulses. What matters is what we do when we’re hit with them. We need to make these thoughts obedient to Jesus and then walk in faith that we have the righteousness of Christ because of what he did on the cross. See 1 Corinthians 10.
It’s totally normal to want more, but Satan would love to twist this desire into doubt and would like nothing more than for us to agree with the lie that God is holding back from us. Just trust that God is bringing you through this difficult time and that there is going to be growth on the other side of it (see James 1).
One last thing that I find helpful when I’m struggling is to restrict my media intake to things that I know are going to be life-giving. I love podcasts. It’s sort of like being read to as a kid. Check out podcasts by Bethel Church in Redding, Bethel Atlanta, or any other churches that you know of where there is a message being preached that resonates with you. Prune out any media that makes you feel drained or icky after you consume it, even if it’s highly entertaining. It could be quenching a fire that God is trying to build in you. You may find that you can pick those things back up later, but if you find more freedom in your spirit when you abstain from some shows/magazines/movies/etc, then it’s worth leaving them out. We can ask God for the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2), but if we keep dumping garbage into it, we’re sort of making it difficult for God to keep it renewed, ya know?
I hope that helps.
God bless you!
Anyone else have advice for “Jill”? What do you do when you’re struggling with your faith?