I walked down the street knowing I had been given exactly what I needed. No more, no less. It was just enough to cover the need. I was thankful, but there was a suppressed uneasiness present that began to chip away at the surface of gratefulness.
That’s when I realized that in the midst of my need, I didn’t actually want God to provide for me; I wanted Him to make me comfortable. I didn’t want enough to cover this specific need. I wanted enough that I would never have to rely on the help of others again. I said I relied on God, but I really just wanted to make ends meet on my own terms. I didn’t want other people to be involved. I wanted Him to provide in a way that I could just meet the demands I faced by myself.
When we hate relying on the body of Christ and we strive to “do it all” on our own, our attitude is doing more than causing a rift between ourselves and other people in that particular instance. It is revealing a chasm between a holy God and a needy sinner. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t like being needy, much less feeling needy. But as I tell students all the time, if I don’t see my need for being saved, I’ll have no need to call upon the Savior.
In this moment of wishing I could handle life without asking others for help I was clearly being prideful, but it also revealed something much deeper. I had become angry that finding comfort had nothing to do with being comfortable. My sin of discontent was planted in my desire to be so comfortable that I didn’t have to rely on anyone. Lusting after self-sufficiency is denying God’s sufficiency. The desire to not receive help from others includes the rejection of help that comes from God through others. In theory, I like to think about relying on God. But in reality, relying on God looks like relying on the body of Christ . . . and that, I’m not so great at doing.
First John 1:2 says “For all that is in the world---the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life---is not from the Father but is from the world.” Our human desires are not always evil, but can quickly become sin as we, in our flesh, twist them so that they are not focused on, towards or about God. My desire for comfortability via things of the world must be submitted to an eternal perspective and love for God first. But when my flesh longs for the twisted comfort the world has to offer, what do I do?
Repent (Ps 51:17).
My repentance isn’t about recognizing that God is in control whether I like it or not. It’s about recognizing God’s love for me in that He doesn’t leave me to myself. He loves me enough to show me my flesh, to call me to repentance and to give me what I need, not just what I want. It’s about recognizing that He knows all things better than I do; He knows the depths of my needs and the sin in my heart and the perfect way to help me through it all.
Trust his wisdom (1 Cor 2:5).
I must seek to know God’s character. If I don’t really know who God is, I have no reason to rely on him. If I don’t seek to know the depths of his holiness or goodness or perfection, I don’t have any foundation to stand on when it comes to trusting him. I call this detecting cracks in the foundation. You want to know how to have a firm foundation? Find the cracks of where you disbelieve the truth of who God is.
Seek to think differently (Rom 12:2).
My sinful desire for self-sufficiency wasn’t a new revelation really. I’ve sought after comfortability for as long as I can remember. Being comfortable isn’t bad. However, the way I was thinking about it was just wrong. I wanted to be in charge. I wanted it to be easy. I wanted it to be my way. I wanted it to be pretty and for me to look strong and capable. Those things are wrong because they are all about me feeling good for my own sake, not feeling good because of who God is, what He did and what He continues to do.
In the challenge I was facing I knew that God was calling me to deeper places of trusting Him, but frankly I was angry that He would ask me to do such a thing. I had been thinking in this particular way for so long I hadn’t even noticed my sinful thought pattern. I had stopped believing, “Whatever is your will, Lord” and instead begun thinking “As long as it’s not unreasonable to me, Lord.” These statements are rooted in wrong thinking I had developed over time. My hope and comfort had slowly crept away from truth and towards the lies of my flesh and the world. After repenting of my sin, I needed to reset my eyes on truth.
Confess to others in humility (Jas 5:16).
There is something humiliating about telling others that you need help when you desperately want to do things on your own. When we humble ourselves before the Lord and others, we get to experience community and joy. When I try to be the whole body instead of part of the body, I am also hurting the people around me. I am telling them that they should be able to do it all on their own as well. Confessing to other gives accountability to the way you are thinking and allows God’s grace to flow within His body through its members.
I’ll be honest, I still struggle with this. But I now struggle with joy, knowing I have a certain hope, knowing that I can look forward to whatever it is God is seeking to do in my heart. My lustful desire to be adequate apart from anyone else rejects God’s offer of relationship with Him. But when I bring that into the light by confession, that’s me handing over the reigns. And that is where joy in Christ resides.
Rebekah Hannah is a biblical counselor at The Grace Center for Biblical Counseling in Jacksonville, Florida. She is married to Andrew and has three daughters.