We all struggle at times, don’t we? I feel the Lord’s compassion for those who shared your stories with me last year. Over the holidays, I was also thinking of some of my staff and what that time was like for them. One spent Christmas alone while her husband was in the hospital. Two experienced their first holiday season without a parent who died this past year. Then, I contemplated the personal or relational pain challenges of the 109 we counsel each week. Feelings of stress, loneliness, discouragement, depression and defeat are all too common. This is on top of health issues that plague some of my friends. If you relate to any of that, I understand. If you don’t, please pray for those you know who are having difficulty.
In light of this, the Holy Spirit recently began to minister to me a deeper understanding of Romans 8:1. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” What He was bringing to my mind was this. Our Father is never going to condemn us when we struggle, feel negative feelings, don’t trust Him, don’t depend on Christ in us, don’t feel like praying or reading our Bibles, don’t live like who we are in Christ, or anything else you want to fill in this blank with _____.
I think He was speaking to me about this because of some things I was dealing with. Ever since I had a mild case of Covid-19 in mid-November, I’ve had full-body neuropathy, i.e., feelings of pins and needles that move around to different parts of my body. I love my mom, who lives with us, but it’s stressful to experience her Alzheimer’s progressive draining of her memories of who her family is. In addition, I was worried about my financial situation. I don’t share this with you to elicit your pity. Instead, I want to give you context for why no condemnation in Christ took on a deeper meaning. In all my struggles with all this, He was saying, “Mark, there is no condemnation from me for the stress you feel, for you not trusting me like you want to do, for your sin of worrying, etc.”
He wasn’t telling me or any of us that He doesn’t care about our struggles and wants us to live with them. These are not our Father’s best for us. Instead, He wants us to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 3:8) He wants us to remember and thank Him that: Christ is still our Life (Colossians 3:4); our new identity in Christ means our new hearts are still perfect, and we always desire to trust Him, depend on Him, pray to Him, and renew our minds with the truth of the New Covenant (Ezekiel 36:26, Proverbs 3:5-6, Galatians 2:20, Philippians 4:6-7, Romans 12:2); His grace is sufficient for us in our weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:9); we are always close to Him even in our struggles because we are united with Him, and there can never be any separation (1 Corinthians 6:17).
Finally, our struggles and how God ministers to us in them are never only for us. These are also for the people He puts in our lives. As a result, we can understand their struggles more. We can feel the Lord’s compassion for them. We are not as quick to try to “fix” them. We can comfort them with the same comfort that God has comforted us (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
Let’s thank our Father that our condemnation as a result of being in Adam is gone because we are now in Christ (Romans 5:18). Let’s thank our Father that our condemnation from being under the Law has been replaced by being under the ministry of grace where we are always 100% righteous in Christ (2 Corinthians 3:9). Let’s thank our Father that in all our varied struggles, there is no condemnation ever!
© Mark Maulding (But feel free to share this.)