There is a question that counselors often ask a person who continues to struggle with the same issues and nothing ever changes: “So what does this circumstance do for you that keeps you staying in it?” In other words, “how is this working for you?”
Now, I am not speaking to those who are in circumstances beyond their control. If you are being abused as a prisoner in a cell you can’t get out of, that is one thing, but why would a person stay in a marriage where they get beat up? What about a person complaining about a terrible job but never applying for another one?
It is understandable when someone is trying to leave bad habits, patterns or sins that keep them stuck, that they will need time to work through the issues in order to break free of them. They need community and support as they pick up new and healthy tools to help them move forward.
People need to be patient with them, come alongside them and offer tangible and emotional help.
However, when the support is there, the tools have been offered, advice given and one still continues to run back to that which is harmful, or stay stuck in circumstances they refuse to change, we have to realize that maybe the pain of exchanging the familiar for the work it takes to do a different “dance” is just too high.
Sometimes, we return to what we hate or hang on to that which we know because our pain level with the circumstances isn’t high enough.
Some women stay in an abusive marriage because they feel they deserve to be abused or being married to an abuser at least doesn’t make her own flaws look so bad.
Other people stay in an addiction because to work through their struggles on their own without medicating it, is just too painful.
It is said that people will only change their life when the pain level is high enough to cause them to say “enough”.
For many in this world, they have no hope and nowhere to turn to find answers so that leaves them stuck. They feel that life is only a once around and then it is over forever. Despair and hopelessness leaves them in the same place.
For Christ followers, however, we can get stuck as well, even when we have a new spirit within us.
Yet, because we are freed by Christ from the power of sin and called to a hope of a new resurrected life in Christ, we can move beyond this if we really want to.
How can we say we have faith in a Savior who has the power over sin and death and then live as if he is powerless?
We can do better than this because He has defeated all of it, provides a way of escape from the temptations that try to trap us and gives us everything we need for life and godliness.
The encouraging hope that we have if we are Christ followers is that His power is made perfect in our weakness.
2 Corinthians 12:9: “ And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me”.
So, the question for us as Christ followers shouldn’t be, “how is this working for you?” but rather, “how are you letting the power of Christ work in and through this weakness of yours?”
Be encouraged that because of Christ, you don’t have to stay stuck or repeat the same patterns.
Today is the day to leave it behind. Today is the day to change.
He’s got this!