I received a lengthy e-mail recently from a Christian in Wales. Having experienced much personal loss in his life, he wrote, "I rarely have peace." At the same time, he described times of worship when God's peace has filled his soul. So is this normal, and perhaps even to be expected in the life of a believer?
To begin with, we must be sure to establish the proper foundation. A Christian is a follower of Jesus and has received the forgiveness of sins through faith in Christ, and not on account of his deeds. Having said that, every believer brings a different set of circumstances into their relationship with Christ. Different backgrounds. Different moods. Different struggles. But the same Savior.
And while there is a certain agitation which a believer experiences as a result of his own sin, there are also many occasions when Christians experience agitation as a result of something unrelated to their obedience or some sin in their life. In fact, it is terribly common for faithful Christians to struggle with feelings of agitation for one reason or another.
It would be cruel and unbiblical to suggest that every inner disturbance is connected to personal sin. That theory simply doesn't hold water. Faithful Christians regularly experience agitation due to physical, emotional, or spiritual pressure. This does not mean these believers are sinning, or that they have a lack of faith. This agitation may be related to grief, or temptation, or wounds of the heart, or even moodiness.
The e-mail I received from Wales contains many examples of how this believer has trusted God to help him through his trials. Each example is evidence of God's mighty work in his life. And the fact that he often lacks peace does not mean he is to blame for such agitation. That's not how the Christian life works.
Scripture encourages God's children with these words: "Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you." (1 Peter 5:7) It doesn't say, "Your anxiety is due to some sin in your life." As stated above, there is agitation which develops when a Christian is giving into sin; but that doesn't mean every case of agitation is related to personal sin. Not by a long shot.
Perhaps you can relate to the believer in Wales. If so, I want to emphasize to you what I stressed to him in my response. God is pleased with your faith in Christ, and with your desire to live for Him. And agitation is something which faithful Christians experience regularly. It's the result of living in a fallen world. Sometimes we can be doing everything right, and yet still be experiencing much inner angst.
It might be due to illness, the death of a loved one, depression, spiritual attacks by fallen angels, or some other cause. But regardless, God loves you unconditionally and He is by your side to help you through your agitation, no matter how long it persists.
One day we will enter heaven and never again experience agitation of any kind. Nothing will ever bother us there. But for now, we are still in these bodies, and still in this fallen world. And we continually look to the One who is the Prince of Peace.
What a privilege we have as believers to bring our concerns and our agitation to our loving God. "Trust in Him at all times O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge." (Psalm 62:8)
It is insightful that the believer in Wales has noticed more personal peace during periods of worship. This is good for us to remember during those times we become agitated.
Believers worship God for who He is and what He has done. God's nature and God's goodness doesn't change just because our mood changes, or because our heart feels heavy. As we choose to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth, we open our soul to a fresh encounter with the living God.
In the words of the Psalmist, "Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God." (Psalm 42:5)
He is our hope. He is our anchor. And He will bring us safely through this world of agitation into His heavenly kingdom.
For now, we press on, and we hold on. But more importantly, Christ holds us, and He will never let go.