I am with Herman Melville on this one. I am “dreadfully cracked about the head, and sadly need mending.” Thirty-plus years a Christian and the words of Brennan Manning in The Ragamuffin Gospel still ring true:
When I get honest, I admit I am a bundle of paradoxes. I believe and I doubt, I hope and get discouraged, I love and I hate, I feel bad about feeling good, I feel guilty about not feeling guilty. I am trusting and suspicious. I am honest and I still play games. Aristotle said I am a rational animal; I say I am an angel with an incredible capacity for beer.
Can you relate to this?
Are we hopeless?
Thankfully, there is also plenty of reason not to despair. Because of Jesus, there is encouragement available to us as we experience the rupture of anticlimax, and as we face the fact that until Jesus returns, we will continue to fall short of the glory for which we have been created.
Encouragement comes from knowing that even the greatest heroes of faith were also flawed and broken—wrecked, weary, restless, and sometimes tortured sinners—even at their spiritual peak.
Aren’t you relieved that those you respect most in the faith also have shortcomings?
Aren’t you relieved that so many of the men and women in the Bible—people like Isaiah and Paul and Rahab and Martha—carried deep, abiding flaws?
Aren’t you relieved that every last one of them is an incomplete work in progress whose less flattering features remained with them until their dying day, even as they journeyed toward ultimate and everlasting perfection in Christ?
If any of this resonates, I hope you will be as encouraged as I am by the following letter, written by a caring pastor and father to a young, discouraged man:
I continue to pray for you in the struggles you face. I’ve been so helped as I’ve thought about some of the following things. I don’t want you to ever forget that Moses stuttered and David’s armor didn’t fit and John Mark was rejected by Paul and Hosea’s wife was a prostitute and Amos’s only training for being a prophet was as a fig-tree pruner. Jeremiah struggled with depression and Gideon and Thomas doubted and Jonah ran from God. Abraham failed miserably in lying and so did his child and his grandchild. These are real people who had real failures and real struggles and real inadequacies and real inabilities, and God shook the earth with them. It is not so much from our strength that he draws, but from his invincible might. I am praying that he will give you courage in this quality of his.
How awful it would be if the valiant, self-sacrificing, heroic disciples of Jesus weren’t also unfinished sinners and sufferers. How discouraging it would be if their lives and stories demonstrated that the truest feeling of faith is the feeling of competence and towering strength. But their lives and stories do not tell us this. Rather, they tell us that the defining feeling of faith is the feeling of humility and dependent weakness.
The weary wanderings of the ancient people of God bring me almost as much comfort as the promises of God themselves.
Because if there is hope for real sinners and sufferers like them, then there is also hope for real sinners and sufferers like me.
This article originally appeared here and is used by permission.