Question from a Site Viewer
I am 18 years old and I have problems–lots of problems. I’ve been in church my whole life and I’ve been struggling lately. I have had recent problems getting along with my family and friends and I’ve had a lot of personal problems with myself. Could all these problems be happening because I have failed God?
Thank you for your question. When problems arise, they can come for many reasons. Sometimes they come because of our sin and God simply lets us see that without Him things are a mess. Sometimes, however, they come to grow us. So it was with both Joseph and David. They had problems with their families and friends and self when they were young. In either case, the answer to the problems is to follow Christ. Even Christ had problems with his family and friends. But He did not waver in His desire to please the Father. So it should be with us.
It is easy to think that God is on our side when everything is going well. But we learn so much more about ourselves and God when there are struggles. When there are problems, we are taught to flee to the throne of grace and find mercy there (Hebrews 4:16). We are taught to pray earnestly (Luke 18:1-8) and wait expectantly for God to answer. But as people, we are not very good at waiting. Rather, we tend to pray and then give up hope when the response is not immediate. James 5:17-18 tells us that the saints of God prayed differently. They prayed earnestly, sought the face of God, and God heard and answered. This is why Jesus tells us to ask and we shall receive. The verb tenses in the Greek language in which the New Testament was originally written indicate that Jesus is asking us to keep on asking and we will receive. Then He turns around and says that the one who asks in this way (that is in persistent asking) keeps on receiving.
So my encouragement to you is to not waver from your pursuit of Christ. God tests us, often when we are young, to mature us into saints of invaluable worth both before God and with humans (See Lamentations 3:25-33). God let Joseph be hated by his brothers, sold into Egypt, and cast into prison. But in each situation, God was with him, and when the testing was over God raised Joseph up to be a ruler. God did much the same with David. David was mocked by his brothers, hated by the king, and fled for his life when he was young. But when he turned 30, he began to rule over Judah as king.
I also encourage you to seek to do what you can to be a blessing to those with whom you are having problems. Learn the servant secret. Practice serving others out of the strength of character God is building in you. Be willing to take grief from others and bear it with grace. As we learn to serve, we become followers of Christ who made Himself a servant. And God will exalt you in His time.
So, even as you pray, be alert to possibilities to seek peace with your families and friends. Take the opportunities to say kind words, to be conciliatory, to help, and to serve. Dedicate your life to serving Christ by praising Him and serving others.
Finally, do not let failure defeat you. When we stumble, and we all stumble; and when we sin, and we all sin; make it a practice not to linger in the stumbling and sin. Rather, turn immediately back to Christ. He desires to be with us. He desires the sinner to repent (turn back to Him) (Luke 15). He wants us to spend as little time away from Him as possible. Thus, when we sin, we should not think that we are not worthy and therefore we will not approach God right away. This is exactly what Satan wants us to think. Instead, we should understand God’s great desire for us to return to Him and we should come immediately back and find the mercy that always awaits us at the Father’s place. Then, having returned to the Father, seek to serve Him in everything with prayer and thanksgiving.
If you learn the practice of constant communion with God through prayer, meditation, and making Him your companion in your life, you will have learned the life of Christ and you will be His follower. And as you pursue Him, you will find that His presence is both real and enriching.
May the Lord Jesus give you wisdom and bless you with His presence,
a fellow servant,