It’s a sad story, a brutally honest tale with a ray of hope. A young woman wrestling with depression and self-harming, who can’t figure out why she still fights negative thoughts after coming to Christ.
I suspect there are a lot of “Jessies” out there, people who love God but are still locked in serious struggles with personal sin and shortcomings. After all, isn’t life supposed to be rosy, the road smooth and sunlit, when we become Christians?
Americans like to fix things. We are a pragmatic bunch, always seeking solutions to problems. If something is broke, out come the tools. If there’s a tear, we fetch needle and thread (or duct tape). If we have a medical condition, it’s nothing that a small mountain of pills can’t cure.
But Christianity isn’t a pill. God isn’t some wonder drug that we pull down from the shelf when we feel bad. Sometimes, we aren’t “fixed” in a way that we had hoped. Some Christians don’t like this concept. When I was a young believer, I didn’t. I squirmed when I reflected on my personal sins and judged Christians who had the gall to reveal their ongoing trials with addiction, grief or fear. If you’re unwell in some part of your spirit, all you need to do is take a bigger “Jesus pill”–pray harder, read the Bible more, go to church as often as the doors are opened.
Now don’t get me wrong: I cherish my relationship with Jesus. Christ pulled me out of a ditch a long time ago and I lean on Him every day. I have seen His love, tenderness, forbearance and gracious power in play many times.
But I still do battle with fears and inadequacies. Doubts and nettling theological questions sometimes pop up in my head. Like Jessie, I wonder why I am not further down the road of redemption. This is where my Methodism kicks in. John Wesley believed that the Christian was on a journey, a process of sanctification that was dotted with obstacles and potholes. In in his Plain Account of Christian Perfection, Wesley notes that there is no account of “any general state described in Scripture, from which a (person) cannot draw back to sin.” All believers desire to perfectly love God and neighbor, but we fall short. We stumble. Sometimes we even fall flat on our face. Wesley taught that complete sinlessness was only possible in heaven; therefore, we must continue to pray, resist temptation and seek the face of God.
Christ has set us free to walk the narrow path to glory with Him. It isn’t an easy road. I suspect it wasn’t supposed to be. When fears, failures and foibles beset us along the way, Jesus doesn’t offer a divine pill to make things all better–but He does offer Himself and, for me at least, that gives me strength to take another step forward.