Sandi Fatow has a saying she uses when she goes to gatherings to speak and tell her story. She says (paraphrasing), “Sadness happens when we lose something that we love, respect, or cherish.” And if that’s true, joy happens when we find those things. Then, if or when we have that thing we love, respect, and/or cherish, and harm comes to it where it seems senseless or it didn’t have to, that becomes the fuel for anger.
You might’ve heard me mention this a time or two (hundred, give or take), but my downfall emotion was never anger. When I say “downfall emotion,” I’m referring to the thing you feel in your heart that makes you suspectible to poor choices. If anger was your downfall emotion, you might be prone to fights, sex, legal trouble, violence… Someone whose downfall emotion was sadness might turn to drugs, sleep, suicidal thinking… You know what I mean.
When we became followers of Jesus, we pledged to two things. First, that our bondage was broken. And as scripture will tell you, we are no longer slaves to sin once that bondage is broken. Secondly, we pledged that we would live our lives according to His perfect plans, and that we would keep our focus on HIM.
Even Paul had a downfall. Paul, who went from being a Christian killer to a soul winner, speaks in II Corinthians about a thorn in his side, and how he begged the Lord three different times to take it away. We don’t know what exactly Paul’s thorn was, but we know it caused him a lot of trouble. In Romans 6 and 7, he talks about his spirit’s wrestling with his flesh, and how his flesh would often drive him to do the things he didn’t want to do.
We all have a thorn, and that thorn could be anything. Any hang-ups, hurts, wounds, habits, addictions, or mind frames could be a thorn. When we come to Christ for the first time, we come with the idea that God will remove the thorn from our side. And while He has that ability, while He can and does do that, more often than not, that’s just not the case. In fact, when Paul asked God to remove his thorn, he had already long been a lover of Jesus. He had walked the walk and talked the talk with what I truly believe was a sincere heart and true love for the Lord. I also believe that when he made his request known, he truly believed with faith in his heart that God would remove the thorn. The Bible tells us that he asked three times. Three.
The very things that break us in this world and cause the most grief and agony are the things that make us need Jesus. If we could do it on our own, then the cross would have long been rendered worthless. So we’re told over and over again, many of us growing up hearing it in church, that God will heal us if we just have faith. Whether it’s a physical healing or an emotional one, we have not because we ask not. Or, you know, it’s our disbelief. That’s what we’re told. “You just need more faith.”
My downfall emotion is sadness. Sadness for me takes on many forms, but ultimately goes back to the simple fact that my heart is broken. And I live in a world where my spirit and my flesh go head to head on a daily basis. Once upon a time, I might’ve taken my broken heart down a dark road, only to have the journey take me from a broken heart to an absolutely shattered existence.
I was really glad when the church stole Rascal Flatt’s “Broken Road” song from the secular world, because there is bold truth to be found in the line, “You blessed the broken road that led me straight to You.” Because healthy people don’t need doctors. Sick people need doctors. And forget what the church calls “broken.” Everybody is broken, and everybody knows God is in the market for broken people. But the ones who truly have deep understanding in their heart of God’s goodness and power are the ones who were way past broken, and were just completely and utterly shattered to dust. Remember the parable of the two men who were both forgiven of their debt, and the one who was most grateful.
Our downfalls, our triggers, our hurts can be absolute agony. And it would be really easy to say no to that drug, or to that girl, or to that face just asking to be punched, if you weren’t feeling so (insert the word here). And your spirit doesn’t want what your flesh wants. In the wrestling, you may find yourself crying out to God and just begging Him to remove that thorn. And maybe He will if you have enough faith.
Paul already worded it beautifully, so I’ll let him finish this. And may you receive the same response in peace that he did.
…Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan,to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.