Are you stuck? Yup ... not the most comfortable spot, is it? My friend, Nicole Unice, pries open hope for us today.
By Nicole Unice
I once watched a television show where the main character was stuck in a broken-down, crowded subway car. She looks composed on the outside, but we can also hear her inner monologue. The face says "I'm fine" while the inner monologue becomes more panicked, more desperate and more frustrated with each passing minute, culminating in her inner voice screaming "C'MON, MOVE IT!"
I can relate.
Somehow I've been gifted with the curse of "holding it all together when you are really falling apart." I can say the right things, go through the right motions and even pray the right prayers, yet all the while, my heart becomes more panicked even as my outward faith seems pleasant and serene.
Yes, my friends, the struggle is certainly real. Perhaps you've experienced a week - or a month - of little frustrations where nothing seems to quite fall in your favor, until those "distractions" start to feel like the rule rather than the exception. The light within you begins to dim - almost imperceptibly - and then you wake up one morning and realize you aren't hopeful about, well, anything. You've been more resentful than relaxed, more impatient than unflappable.
Maybe you try some of your normal spiritual survival techniques but nothing seems to soften the arid landscape of your heart. The "living water" that Jesus promised just seems to run right off and puddle at your feet. If this describes your struggle, take heart. You are not alone. Strangely enough, this might actually be a hopeful sign of spiritual growth to come.
It is been in my most stuck places that I've sought Jesus the most. It's when my normal spiritual tricks don't work that I find myself desperately seeking more. This is what I call the good kind of desperation, the kind that makes us stubbornly dig deeper into that parched ground of our hearts. Digging deeper might look like arguing with God or even turning your back on him - but eventually walking on back when you realize, like Jesus' disciples, "to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life" (John 6:68). Digging deeper might be begging for a fresh Word in scripture, flipping past your normal comfort-zone passages and stretching into new places, finding friends in the weeping prophet Jeremiah, the depressed and downcast Elijah, the confused and argumentative Peter. Digging deeper might look like plowing over the ground of our past, asking God to reveal places of hurt or wounding that have become well-worn ruts of defensiveness or guardedness or insecurity. Digging deeper might mean laying our head on the shoulder of a friend, admitting how stuck we feel and asking her to pray for us.
If you are the one who's usually strong, this can be the greatest challenge of all. If you are the one who usually has it all together, it can be a great gift to your friends when you admit that you are falling apart. Scripture says "bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2). The law of Christ is the law of love, a love that sacrifices deeply for one another. You do not fulfill the law of Christ when you are always the burden-bearer and never the burden-giver.
When you find yourself stuck, really stuck, you become more willing to get unstuck in any way necessary. And it's that kind of desperation that brings us to greater depth. Our Father's desire for us is not that we grow comfortable-but that we grow gloriously into the image of Christ. Let the uncomfortable places do their work in you, and discover just how strong you can become in your weakness.
Nicole Unice is a Bible teacher and author of several books, including The Struggle is Real, a new book and video study from Tyndale and Right Now Media. Find out more her books & speaking at nicoleunice.com.