What Has Been Your Biggest Spiritual Struggle and How Did You Get Victory?
The following is an edited transcript of the audio.
What has been your biggest struggle spiritually and how did you have victory over it?
Victory? Pride is everybody's biggest struggle, so it is kind of a cop out to say "Pride," because it always takes different forms. Pride can be the boasting kind in the heart of the strong, or the moping and self-pitying kind in the heart of the weak. Weak meaning, "things didn't go the way that I wanted. Oh poor me." So you sulk and you pity yourself.
I don't boast a lot. Maybe I do and don't know I'm doing it. So, what I just said may be boasting. But I do pout a lot. My default sinful emotion starts with a sense of frustration that it didn't go my way and I didn't get what I wanted; at home, at church, or here at Desiring God. And then I begin to sink into, "Oh poor me," and can justify it in all kinds of ways. So I just retreat, go inside, and sulk.
So that's a proud frustration about the fact that things didn't go my way. Why should they go your way? You are a sinner, you should be in hell. The fact that you are breathing is a spectacular gift. You have two eyes, you can see, you could be blind. You have two ears, you can hear, you could be deaf. You have two moving hands that could be arthritic, what are you so upset about? We are so ungrateful and proud in thinking things should be better for us.
In combination with that proud frustration is a sinful response. I get angry instead of pro-actively dealing with it, repenting of it, moving into a person's life and trying to work it out. I retreat, emotionally go down, freeze up, and sulk until it explodes.
I've never hit my wife, and I've never hit anybody. I squeezed Rodney Jordan one time really tight, and then I dropped him on the ground because I thought it was wrong to hit him with my fist, when I was about 14. But I've never hit anybody, I've got control of my anger. However, you can still explode other ways, right? And that's not healthy.
So that conglomerate of being impatient and easily frustrated, rising into anger, then restrained anger turning into self-pity eventually coming out in some unhelpful way—that whole conglomeration is a brokenness in me that I don't think I have gotten victory over. I have restraints on it and Noel and I are still working on it.
What does that do to my marriage, and what does her typical brokenness do to me? When you have two kinds of brokenness that live together and they don't go well together, then you have to really continually work on those dysfunctions in your own soul, and hers.
God is so good. We've been married 41 years and we are still working on this. I believe we will be until the end. I invite you, with your besetting sins, not to despair.
This is why the gospel is so precious. If I wake up in the morning and have to measure my performance and my emotional godliness from yesterday as the means by which I am going to get God on my side this morning, I am a goner. I am an absolute goner. I have to turn from that, having repented, and say, "Thank you, thank you, thank you that there is an alien righteousness imputed to me by faith alone. I receive it like a child desperately needing it. Thank you for forgiveness and thank you for the punishment that went on to Jesus though it belongs to me." I should be a happy person and therefore I should make progress in the overcoming of pride.