The most discouraging part of life is being my own worst enemy.
I can been angry at an outside offender and avoid the people I like the least. But I can’t get away from me! Every night I go to bed declaring, “I will do better tomorrow!” Every morning I awake still mired in the same muck that harassed me yesterday.
In my recovery from an eating disorder, every night I swore that the next day I would eat right, moderate my exercise, and be honest with my therapist. Then, like an alcoholic lured by the neighborhood bar or the liquor cabinet still in his den – I rose each new day and fell instantly into old, comfortable habits.
These verses may not seem encouraging on the face, but they teach me that God is for me, even when I am not.
“For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, ‘In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and trust shall be your strength.’ But you were unwilling…Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.” Isaiah 30:15,18
My personal battle was with anorexia and compulsive exercise. The ability to force my body to perform, to burn every last calorie, to earn every morsel of food, seemed of utmost importance. When counselors and loved ones began to warn me of the consequences of my actions and to restrict my activity, I needed some promise that I wasn’t losing the single most valuable thing in my life.
“Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. This saying is trustworthy and worthy of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.” I Timothy 4:7b-10
In these verses God promised me that the most important way to invest my time and the activity that would benefit me the most was to discipline my mind to study His word. That gave me another focus, a different kind of exercise which promised me great gain.
The idea of suffering is never appealing. But the fact is, suffering comes to all people. It is of great comfort to know that there is a purpose behind the pain.
“And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you.” I Peter 5:10
The greatest pain I ever experienced came in the form of betrayal by a very important person in my life. For days my body and soul felt like black holes. I was caving in on myself, soon to evaporate completely. I was furious that life went on. How dare it in some situations! Through I Peter 5:10, God reminded me that He has a sovereign purpose. I emerged on the other side of betrayal stronger, more confident and the relationship was restored.
Perhaps the most comforting verse in the Bible is II Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is God breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking and training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” God assures me that His word is applicable and sufficient for all situations – even the most painful ones.