God created our world filled with paradoxes. In His Word, He makes in-congruent statements like “in our weakness, we are strong.” Or, the meek shall inherit the earth. The poor are rich. The contrasts don’t end there. He has tucked them inside each of us, whether we admit it or not. Example?
Think of the Old Testament prophet Elijah. In I Kings 18, we read of how he alone defeated 450 prophets of Baal. Read it. It’s amazing. I’d say unbelievable if I didn’t believe it. His boldness, his confidence in God.
And yet….only a few short verses later in I Kings 19, Elijah is crying out to God to take his life. Now that is believable. Many of us have felt those same emotions, said the same words. In this state of exhaustion, his life feels worthless, especially with Jezebel’s promise to kill him. It seems impossible that his I Kings 19 fear and emotions live in the same man who called fire from heaven and defeated 450 prophets of Baal mere hours before that scene in chapter 18. That’s a paradox! It’s hard to understand one so strong also being so weak.
And yet doesn’t that describe us? Humans are consistently able to pull off big projects, heroic acts of kindness, and yet, after the “party” is over, when the adrenaline rush ebbs, then self doubt sets in. That’s the paradox tucked in each of us. For some reason it reminds me of the compassionate and brilliant doctor who is also an alcoholic.
I believe the problem of this paradox is exponentially compounded because Satan knows this weak spot in us, in all human beings. He’s had time to study a lot of us. Being Satan, he purposes to leverage our own weaknesses against us at the most opportune times, or is it inopportune times? It happens so often that maybe we should label it the Elijah syndrome.
But there is an answer to the Elijah syndrome. It’s the same answer every time.
Fact: We are strong. But we are not perfect. Fact: We do great things. But we also make great mistakes which hurt others, hurt ourselves and irreversibly alter life.
Satan purposes to use this weakness against us, to beat us down, often at the exact moment of our success. Not Jesus. More than Satan, Jesus is even more aware of our flaws, our weaknesses and our tendency to sin. Yet He never is the voice in your head beating you up over those incidents. He came to save, not to condemn. His Holy Spirit is a gentle whisper turn the other way, there is a better way. We have to choose it, but salvation is a beautiful gift.
So, if you are struggling with self-doubt, if you have recently botched something big, then fall on Jesus, just as you did at the moment you believed. Turn your eyes upon Him. He died for you and He stands ready to cover your transgression, no matter the size, with His blood, which cleanses us from all sin.
That preaches. That promise brings hope, relief because we cannot “fix” anything. The forgiveness of Jesus Christ will bring joy in the midst of whatever you are struggling with today, even when there are earthly consequences yet to pay. Don’t expect the paradox to end. Don’t expect to be all saint all the time. It won’t happen this side of heaven. So stop, pause and pray. Confess your sins and re-enter the joy, the hope, the relief of forgiveness again. Run to Him. Don’t let Satan’s accusations push you into hiding from the One who knows you better than anyone, who loves you better than anyone else loves you.
The paradox is big, but God’s love and provision are bigger. Bank on it!