Confession is good for the soul, don’t you think? There is so much healing that comes with speaking something out loud, bringing a struggle into the light, admitting that I am helpless and hurting. It’s scary to be so vulnerable with others, admitting to them who I really am, how I fail or wrestle, but when I am met well in community, the safety and encouragement I find there can be deeply redemptive; I need others to act out Christ’s love to me and remind me of the gospel, reminding me of who I am in Jesus when I have forgotten. We all do! We need friends who will sing us our life song when we’ve forgotten the tune.
That said, I’m learning that I need to preach the gospel to myself on a daily, maybe hourly basis, growing in my trust in Jesus. Confessing our doubts is the beginning of understanding why the gospel is necessary—because we are broken humans in need of a good Savior. But if we just stop at this cathartic confession, it’s easy to fall into despair; I know because I’m really, really good at it...I am learning how to preach the gospel to myself and how to fight the lies about God that I am tempted to believe. When I have periods of not believing that God is benevolent or good, when I am so disappointed in how life has panned out, or when I can’t enjoy a season of sweetness because I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop, I hope to recognize my inward battle as soon as possible so that I can confess it to God and others and then start preaching God’s truth to myself; seasons of doubt are opportunities to grow. Seasons of struggle are opportunities to trust God and experience his grace in more intimate ways. Seasons of pain are opportunities to experience, as Kara would remind us, God’s nearness as our good.
I am not a gospel-preaching expert, but I’m figuring out what helps me. First, I identify my struggle or the lie about God that I am believing. After I’ve confessed that, then I search the Bible for Truth that counters the lie I’m believing. Asking others for scripture is helpful, too. And I’m a big fan of index cards—I have them with Bible verse written on them all over my little bungalow! And then I pray, pray, pray for a biblical perspective.
God IS good, and he loves me (despite what my feelings say in the moment). Because my perspective as a human is so limited, I don’t always understand God’s definition of good, but someday when I am in his presence, I will! There is nothing good that God withholds from his children. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. Psalm 84:11
God has an eternal perspective, and I should, too. He is worthy of my trust. He is safe to trust. How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger bringing good news, Breaking the news that all’s well, proclaiming good times, announcing salvation, telling Zion, “Your God reigns!” Voices! Listen! Your scouts are shouting, thunderclap shouts, shouting in joyful unison. They see with their own eyes God coming back to Zion. Break into song! Boom it out, ruins of Jerusalem: “God has comforted his people! He’s redeemed Jerusalem!” God has rolled up his sleeves. All the nations can see his holy, muscled arm. Everyone, from one end of the earth to the other, sees him at work, doing his salvation work. Isaiah 52:7
God has purpose in suffering, even when it seems unbearable, and he doesn’t leave us to suffer alone. Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good. Romans 8:26-28
God’s grace will always meet me where I am, not where my imagination travels, and fill all those cracks of doubt. For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. John 1:16
God is God, and I am not; this also means it’s okay that I struggle and cry and lack faith. God will continue to pursue me with love—nothing I do, no lack of faith on my part, can change God’s love for me or stop him from coming after me. How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son. Ephesians 1:3-6
We are so blessed to have a God who loves us despite our doubts and who invites us to wrestle because he has already, ultimately won that wrestling match! He delights to carry our burdens and wants to hear our hearts. I’m not sure what preaching the gospel to yourself looks like for others; this is just what it looks like for me when I am struggling to believe. I would LOVE to hear what it looks like for you—please comment on how you preach the gospel to yourself when you are wrestling!