Why do we do the things we know we shouldn’t do? And why don’t we do more of the things we know we should do? We get impatient waiting for dreams to come true and get frustrated when our hopes aren’t satisfied. We have everything we truly need for this life because of the accessibility of Jesus. Yet we live in a world of “not yets.” We live in a place of waiting. Waiting for healing, waiting for relief, waiting for help, waiting for answers.

There is joy amidst sorrow. There is appreciation amidst desperation. There are certain riches in this life and our relationships because of the hardships we endure. Still, we try to flee from suffering and cling to comfort zones.

None of us is a stranger to these kinds of tension.

I used to lament the tugs-of-war so commonly experienced in my life and within my spirit. But, many years ago, my perspective started changing. I’m learning to appreciate that much of the tension within me is actually a gift — a privilege born out of a growing relationship with my Lord and Savior through adversity. Why can I say that? Consider these verses with me:

 

So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:21-25 (NIV)

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10 (NIV)

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33 (NIV)

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:7-11 (NIV)

Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself. For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. We are in this struggle together. You have seen my struggle in the past, and you know that I am still in the midst of it. Philippians 1:28-30 (NLT)

 

In light of these truths, we can receive some encouragement:

· Recognition of our sin nature and that growing distaste we have for it is evidence of an aspiration toward holiness — and that’s a good thing! (Someone who is far from God does not aspire to Christ-likeness or care about his sin.)

· Confusion can cause us to search for Truth and clarity from God’s Word — and going to God’s Word is always a good thing!

· Inner tension can help change our perspective (which often needs changing).

· A troubled spirit can draw us closer to Jesus.

· The restlessness that comes from growing passions, dreams and vision can be God-given helping to motivate and mobilize us for new or broader ministry.

FATHER GOD, I am coming to realize that many of my inner tensions are evidence that I am Your child. There is freedom in knowing that these feelings are not always a bad thing. I want to praise You today for the privilege of drawing near to You when I am restless, frustrated, confused, or ashamed. I want to stay firmly rooted in my relationship with You despite the obstacles that will come my way. Help me to persevere, Lord. Thank you for the holy discontentment that keeps me from being apathetic about sin. Help me to turn away from temptation and offer my body as a living sacrifice to You. Thank you for stirring God-given dreams in me. Help me to be patient and persistent, always yielded to you. By the power of Your Holy Spirit, please energize me for things that please You, precious Lord. AMEN

Lisa Jamieson is a caregiver consultant, pastoral counsellor and author of popular books and Bible studies including Finding Glory in the Thorns and Jesus, Let’s Talk. She leads a weekly online discussion group welcoming caregivers in families living with disability. Lisa and her husband, Larry, are co-founders of Walk Right In Ministries, a non-profit organization building faith and community with special needs families. They live in Minnesota with the youngest of their three grown daughters, Carly, who has Angelman Syndrome.

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