Skip to content ↓

Why Do We Add To Our Trouble?

Why Do We Add To Our Trouble

The road is narrow. The path is long. The way is rough. Yet God has called each one of us to run the race of the Christian life. Our every step in this great race is taken in the presence of deadly enemies, our every stride opposed by the world, the flesh, and the devil. The devil’s fiery darts always threaten to harm us, the heart’s evil longings to distract us, the world’s glittering enticements to persuade us to drop out. Even while we keep our eyes fixed on the prize, we grow weary with the running, we groan through the plodding.

If life is already so difficult, the path already so rough, why do we so often add to our trouble? Why, instead of laying aside every weight, do we gather more weights to ourselves? Why, instead of making every step as light as possible, do we make our steps heavier? Why do we throw fresh burdens upon our backs?

We make our way more difficult when we give ourselves over to sin. Every sin is a weight, every vice a heavy load to our souls. Sin burdens the mind, clouds the judgment, afflicts the conscience. Our calling is to put off the old and put on the new, to reject all that belongs to the former self and to embrace all that belongs to the self that is being remade in the image of Jesus Christ. Our calling is to lay aside every sin that otherwise clings so closely and otherwise hinders our pace. Only then can we run with endurance the race that is set before us, only then can we keep pace. Our steps grow lighter when we repent of every sin, when we cast off every transgression, when we remove every hindrance. Holiness in our lives brings lightness to our steps.

The prize lies not behind and not beside, but only ever ahead.

We also make our way more difficult when we look back instead of forward. Behind us is our former selves and ahead of us our renewed selves. Behind us is depravity and ahead of us is holiness. Behind us is our prior evil master and ahead of us our new loving Father. Lot’s wife looked back to her former life and became a pillar of salt; Orpah looked back to her former people and walked away from the people of God; Demas looked back to the world’s enticements and abandoned Paul. “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God,” warned the Lord. The gospel always directs our gaze forward. Ruth followed God’s calling all the way to the line of the Messiah; the Prodigal Son repented and ran straight to the arms of his Father; Paul forgot all his accomplishments and pressed on toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus; the author of Hebrews pondered the great cloud of witnesses and looked to Jesus, the author and perfecter of his faith. The prize lies not behind and not beside, but only ever ahead.

And then we make our way more difficult when we run alone instead of in the presence of others. A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity—the kind of adversity that may overwhelm us and threaten to turn us aside. A threefold cord is not easily broken, and sometimes we need friends to drape our tired arms over their shoulders and to carry us along for a while. When our bodies are racked with sobs and we don’t know if we can take another step, it’s then that we need friends who will weep with those who weep, who will bear our burdens on our behalf, who will lighten our load and allow us to press on. It was when David was at his lowest that Jonathan shone his brightest by coming to him and strengthening his soul in God. This race is too long, too difficult, and too tiring to ever run alone.

Finally, we make our way more difficult when we give our hearts and minds to what is discouraging instead of encouraging. Though we are called to carefully ponder whatever is honorable, just, pure, lovely, and commendable, our minds often focus instead on what is corrupt, wrong, polluted, hideous, and reprehensible. Instead of focusing on what is excellent and worthy of praise, we focus on what is evil and worthy only of condemnation. We are so often drawn to bad news more than good, to evidences of depravity more than evidences of grace. Why then should we be surprised that our feet grow heavy, that our pace begins to falter? What else could happen when we load our minds with all that is awful and forsake all that is good, when we choose to ponder in our hearts those things that are too shameful to speak with our mouths? Careful little eyes what you see, careful little ears what you hear, careful little fingers what you click.

God has called each of his people to run a race, a race that for the great majority of us will be a marathon more than a sprint. This is no small calling, no brief task, no little labor. We run best when we run light, free from the burdens of sin, free from the distractions of the past, free from the dangers of solitude, free from the weight of discouragement. We must run though enemies surround us and threaten us. We must run though bombarded by sorrows, losses, discouragements. We must run though others give up, drop out, and fall away. We must run though many will attempt to persuade us to try a smoother, wider, easier way. We must run with endurance, run to win the prize, run until we have finished the race, run until we have received the victor’s crown.

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (April 18)

    A La Carte: Good cop bad cop in the home / What was Paul’s thorn in the flesh? / The sacrifices of virtual church / A neglected discipleship tool / A NT passage that’s older than the NT / Quite … able to communicate / and more.

  • a One-Talent Christian

    It’s Okay To Be a Two-Talent Christian

    It is for good reason that we have both the concept and the word average. To be average is to be typical, to be—when measured against points of comparison—rather unremarkable. It’s a truism that most of us are, in most ways, average. The average one of us is of average ability, has average looks, will…

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (April 17)

    A La Carte: GenZ and the draw to serious faith / Your faith is secondhand / It’s just a distraction / You don’t need a bucket list / The story we keep telling / Before cancer, death was just other people’s reality / and more.

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (April 16)

    A La Carte: Why I went cold turkey on political theology / Courage for those with unfatherly fathers / What to expect when a loved one enters hospice / Five things to know about panic attacks / Lessons learned from a wolf attack / Kindle deals / and more.

  • The Night Is Far Gone

    The Night Is Far Gone

    There are few things in life more shameful than sleeping when you ought to be working, or slacking off when you ought to be diligent. When your calling is to be active, it is inappropriate and even sinful to remain passive. This is especially true when it comes to contexts that are of the highest…

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (April 15)

    A La Carte: Personal reflections on the 2024 eclipse / New earth books / 7 questions that teens need to answer / Was there really no death before the fall? / How to be humble instead of looking humble / Kindle deals / and more.