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Jeremiah 20: 9–13 ‘But if I say, “I will not mention his word or speak any more in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.’ (v9)

Once surrendered to God, our attempts at denying Him only lead to greater inner turmoil. We’re God’s temples and, whilst we may ‘cold shoulder’ Him, we can’t ignore His presence. Many of our faith struggles are a consequence of our unwillingness or inability to choose obedience. Yet let’s not allow shame to distract us, for shame is only ever a tool provoking greater self-absorption and draws our gaze away from God. Our failures and struggles offer God the raw material from which He shapes us. It’s one reason why we are to confess our sins to one another, both for the relief that comes from bringing our actual bad and good experiences into the open and for the encouragement of those we worship alongside. 

Christianity is not a faith of perfection. We of course journey towards God and want to purge the waywardness that slows our spiritual formation, but it brings great reassurance when others know that we all fail yet are still loved by God and are invited to repent and start again – hopefully wiser and with greater resolve and appreciation of how God works in us. Too often we allow sin to silence us, when in fact the fire of God still burns within, demanding to express itself. I may feel wretched, yet that is precisely what a sinner is. God increases as I decrease (John 3:30), and such humility can only be born from my persistent failures. God knows us in our calling and patiently works with us without complaint. What a God we have!

SCRIPTURE TO CONSIDER: Deut. 8:1–9; Mic. 7:14–20; Luke 17:1–10; 1 Peter 4:1–11.

AN ACTION TO TAKE: Be encouraged that your failures offer the raw material Jesus needs to shape you. Are you willing to acknowledge your failings and surrender to God’s shaping?

A PRAYER TO MAKE: ‘Lord, may I be honest with myself, You and others and so allow You to make of me the witness You created me to become. Amen.’

Micha Jazz is Director of Resources at Waverley Abbey, UK.