I love Jesus. And, I’ve always wanted to honor, love, and obey Him in all I do. Considering this, it’s been a struggle for me when I’ve looked at my life and seen fear, anxiety, doubt, worry etc. The list of my struggles, fears, and failings sometimes stretched long. This is not what I wanted to see in my life. This is not what a strong Christian’s life should look like, I felt. What I saw in my life didn’t please me, and I was sure it didn’t please God – the One I wanted to please.
I believed that if I truly was a Christian, and a strong one, I wouldn’t be struggling so severely with things that displeased my God. The Word of God does say countless times to not be anxious, and to not fear. As for doubting – what would God think of someone who doubts His existence, who doubts His character? I was sure I was a poor excuse for a Christian, and a terrible child of God to be struggling like I was. Every time a fearful, anxious, evil, or doubting thought entered my mind, I recoiled. How could I have these struggles, they were evil – wrong!
However, God spoke to me through my parents, through His word, and through other things. He revealed the truth about this situation. To struggle with sin, fear, doubt, and anxiety is not “bad,” displeasing to God, or degrading as His child. He never said that I must not struggle, and in fact, He speaks in His Word very much about preparing for struggle, persevering through it, and learning from it. God never said that we must be immune to sin, fear, doubt, and struggles. He only said that we must resist it.
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.” Js. 4:7-8
I do not need to feel ashamed when I am confronted with fear, doubt, and evil. I cannot control what is thrown at me. I can only control my response to it. I do not need to feel responsible for the fear I feel, the thoughts that enter my mind, or the doubts I face, I only need to be responsible for my response to them. God showed me a beautiful picture of how this plays out.
In the classic movie, The Return of the King, from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, there is a scene that depicts this picture perfectly. Frodo, the main character, is followed and nagged by an evil creature called Gollum. As Gollum speaks to Frodo, he fills his mind and heart with evil and lies. Is it Frodo’s fault that he is confronted with the evil that Gollum brings into his life? No. However, in the movie, Frodo does not send Gollum away or rebuke him. Instead, he mulls over what Gollum says, let’s it eat at him, and in this scene, he eventually reaches down and takes hold of Gollum’s hand, – despite the protest of his dear friend. Frodo’s sorrowful friend, Sam, is left watching as Frodo walks away, hand in hand with Gollum. Gollum turns his head, and smiles back at Sam, knowing he has deceived Frodo into listening to him.
Satan will often fill our minds with evil, fear, anxiety, and doubt. This is not our fault, and we cannot allow him to then riddle us with shame for it. Neither can we symbolically take hold of his hand by buying into, or entertaining whatever the evil one confronts us with. It is not our fault when Satan extends his hand – his lies, anxiety, fears, doubts, sins, temptations – it is only our fault if we take his hand.
Dear sisters, we are beloved by God and can be sure that He is not displeased when Gollum extends his hand. Nor do we need to be displeased with ourselves. We can be sure that when we resist Satan, he will flee, and when we draw near to God, He will draw near to us. It is no sin to struggle with sin. It is only a sin to give into it. Let us take heart, Jesus has overcome this world, and He has taken hold of our right hands.