I woke feeling like a defeated woman again today, Lord, wrestling with the flesh.
Tired from the start, I wanted nothing more than to remain in bed. And I have good reason – day four of earache and sore throat and overwhelming weariness. I could stay in bed all day and no one would blame me.
Well, that’s not quite true because the Accuser would blame me.
He would say I’m not trying hard enough, that people are counting on me, that I’m sick too often to go to bed every time a virus comes around.
My perfectionistic nature would agree with him, too.
Father, I’m still struggling to find this balance between working hard in Your strength and taking time to rest, too. Sometimes I wish You could physically pull me aside and say, “It’s okay to quit now, Jen. You can take a break.”
I don’t know why it’s so difficult right now to find peace in my everyday life. There’s so much to do and so little time, and I know I’m not alone in feeling this way.
The gap between expectations and reality is something every human faces, especially those of us in ministry.
What’s most bothersome is this constant struggle between wanting to work hard at the life You have laid before me, to do my best to bring glory to Your name, and the daily desire to run away from it all right now.
I’m living in the mire of Romans 7, but longing for the victory of Romans 8.
And I know, I know, I know… that Your Word says we find rest in You alone, that Your burden is easy and light.
So what am I doing wrong?
Because this doesn’t feel easy or light. It feels like a lot of hard, unending work.
Maybe that’s the real key – these feelings that would dominate if I allow them to, feelings like “too hard” and “not enough” and “overwhelmed.”
I know the Enemy of my soul has been hard at work for months now, creating doubt, setting me up for perceived failure, erecting obstacles at every turn.
I know Your Word says to expect his attacks (1 Peter 5:8), and I see them now for what they are, but some days it doesn’t seem to help me overcome.
Some days I just feel stuck.
So, I cry out for rescue, Lord. I’m such a helpless, sinful mess – a pastor’s wife who finds little joy in reading Your Word lately, who lacks the words and sometimes even the desire to pray. One who feels ashamed of her own sinful heart.
Ah, there it is – the truth comes out. This is the battle I fight: I want to be good enough on my own, like Eve in the garden who wanted wisdom on her own terms.
The more I struggle to prove myself, the more I recognize my own flaws and failures, the more defeated I become.
My only hope lies in You, my Rescuer and Redeemer.
You, who love me at my worst.
You, who laid down Your life so that I might live.
I trust in you; do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame, but shame will come on those who are treacherous without cause. Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Psalm 25:2-5 (NIV)
Help me with this burden of guilt, Father. Remind me that I’m a defeated woman no more!
Release me from the Enemy’s snare.
Lift me up from these depths and restore the joy of my salvation to me.
Forgive me for ignoring Your beckoning call, for taking my relationship with You for granted. Forgive me for giving in to selfish desires, for trying to work in my own strength rather than Yours. Forgive me for turning to worldly comforts rather than You.
You alone are my strength and my shield.
Remind me that I can only pour out of myself what I allow You to pour into me, but that Your supply is endless and abundant .
Help me to surrender all.
Help my unbelief.
Let me hide myself in You alone.
Because You are a good, good Father, and You love me still.
I wrote these words over a year ago, about two years into our church-planting journey thus far. I didn’t share them back then for fear of what others might think, but for some reason, this piece keeps coming to mind. So maybe one of you needs to hear that you’re not alone today?
If so, let me encourage you that on the other side of this “wrestling with the flesh” came a season of bearing fruit in my personal walk and harvesting fruit in our ministry that was so worth all of the wrestling. So while it may not seem worth it at the moment, my sister in Christ, don’t listen to the Accuser and that inner voice of doubt. Instead, lean on the promise of Galatians 6:9, and do not grow weary in doing good.
I encourage you to take time today to read through Romans 7 and 8. Take heart in knowing that even the apostle Paul wrestled with the flesh and take note of what made all the difference for him. I promise it’s worth a bit of your precious time!