“God’s let me down,” she cried the words and I cried with her.
We wept over the pain of doing everything “right,” of being confident of God’s presence and blessing and even having a word from Him that you just know means victory.
You go in strong in the Lord…Then you face your trial head on and things go wrong. Way wrong. God doesn’t show up.
All those promises and all that faith you had seems to abandon you like a paid soldier.
God just doesn’t come through.
These are the times that one very particular and deadly sin can side swipe us and render us completely ineffective, sometimes for the rest of our lives.
It’s called the sin of “stumbling” and Jesus tells us about it in Matthew 18:6-9.
“Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks? For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come… If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you…”
The word “stumble” Jesus used here is a very specific word, with a very particular meaning. It means, “to cause a person to begin to distrust One whom he ought to trust and obey.”
We stumble when we allow something to sow a seed of distrust towards God.
It can start small, almost un-noticeable.
But it is deadly.
It is so deadly that it prevents many from ever entering heaven.
It is so dangerous that Jesus specifically speaks woe regarding this one particular sin, this sin of distrust.
It is a BIG DEAL to our spiritual health.
Furthermore, stumbling blocks, those things that cause us potential stumbling, are “Inevitable” according to Jesus. We can’t live life without ever having to face this temptation.
Some of us had to face this in childhood (see verse 6) and because of immaturity simply had no idea how to deal with it. In fact, we may not have known of its presence.
Satan is crafty and does not fight fair.
But Jesus gives us strong words in order to show us the path of life. Stumbling blocks are inevitable and the sin of distrust is deadly…but it is not irreversible!
Jesus tells us how to deal with the sin of distrust: Remove it! We are to deal drastically and decisively with anything that causes us to distrust God and His good intentions towards us.
We cannot expect things to impove over time or to go away on their own. We cannot even expect God to miraculously remove our distrust. We must deliberately act to get rid of it.
Okay, we are all asking HOW?
If you have walked down this road of dealing with stumbling blocks in your life, I’d love to hear how you have dealt with them. All I can offer here is how I have dealt with mine and I say that this works. This process has restored my trust in God.
1. Identify the stumbling block as clearly and specifically as possible.
The more closely you pinpoint where the seeds of distrust began, the more targeted you can be with your “removing” in the next two steps. It was helpful for me to see in Scripture where others “stumbled” (during times of loss, hardship, difficulty, loss, grief, and un-met needs.) This aided me in going back to seasons where distrust was birthed.
2. We remove stumbling from our lives by changing the way we see stumbling blocks.
Remember the optical illusion from two weeks ago? Our perspective is everyting in life. We cannot change what happened to us…but we can change the way we SEE it.
We do this by viewing stumbling blocks through the lens of God’s Word.
Once we have identified the “block” that caused us to distrust God, we take it, sit it down in front of us, and take the microscope of specific scriptures and look at it through those verses. For example, our God says, “See? I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans for your welfare, not for disaster, plans to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremaih 29:11
By taking scriptures like this and using them as a lens, we can start bringing health to our “eye.” Here are a few scripture “lenses” that have helped me:
Proverbs 3:5-6; Romans 8:28; Romans 8:31-32; Jeremiah 29:11; Psalm 145:13b (this whole chapter is good)
Isaiah 55:8-9; Hebrews 13:5
This step is a simple choice. We have every blessing of God given to us. It is our job to appopriate the truth. Until we reach the point where we are ready to do this, we will not get over our sin of stumbling.
My friend told me that she is going to try fasting to deal with her distrust. She told me she is going to work harder to deal with it….to which I responded, “this has nothing to do with trying harder or doing “stuff.” It is a matter of simply rejecting the lies and distortions and choosing to see all of life through the lens of scripture.”
Sometimes getting to the point where we are ready to do that takes time (and a lot of tears!) We’d rather do just about anything but settle ourselves down on God’s Sovereignty + His goodness = Things I Don’t Understand and That Is OKAY.
Been there and don’t ever want to forget it. I left a wake of destruction while I tried to do anything but accept the truth and do the work of trusting.
Trusting is a choice.
3. Trust is restored through Giving Thanks.
Have you ever wondered why God commands us to give thanks in ALL things? Is it because He is miserly and wants us to be grateful for whatever He decides He can give us?
We are to give thanks in all things because thanks-giving is best for US.
Giving thanks assumes God is good (which is the Truth) and everything from His hand is a gift of grace (which is the Truth), even when I can’t understand how or why. Thanks giving then does not allow for stumbling.
When we fail to put God as Sovereign over the big and little events in our lives, and when we fail to give thanks, we inevitably become futile and darkened in our thinking.
“For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God nor GIVE THANKS, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” Romans 1:21
If we can come to the place where we can give thanks for _______________________, thanking God that His intentions are for good and that He never means for our destruction, we can overcome stumbling.
Dealing with past points of stumbling is essential in order to go forward in our faith. I have found I cannot face today’s stumbling blocks in faith and confidence without first removing yesterday’s remnants of distrust. Practicing these three steps has brought much healing to my spiritual eye. I hope it is helpful for someone else as well.
Every Monday for the next several months, I am sharing from my journey and (trying!) to articulate the spiritual habits that God has been weaving into my life.
This month, we are developing the habit of “know.” We are taking baby steps, walking this path one leg at a time. We are doing some hard work this month, digging trenches, cleaning out old “junk,” making space for Truth, so that next month and the ones following, He can come fill them with Himself. Next week we will be ready to start our new habit, the Habit of Love!