I posted the following prayer in a previous post, and wanted to comment on one portion of the passage.
O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on me, a sinner…
It seems as if I am standing on one side of a huge canyon and see how I should grow toward you, live in your presence and serve you, but cannot reach the other side of the canyon where you are. I can speak and write, preach, and argue about the beauty and goodness of the life I see on the other side, but how, O Lord, can I get there? Sometime I even have the painful feeling that the clearer the vision, the more aware I am of the depth of the canyon…
I can only keep trying to be faithful, even though I feel faithless most of the time. What else can I do but keep praying to you, even when I feel numb; to keep speaking in your name, even when I feel alone. Come, Lord Jesus, come. Have mercy on me, a sinner. Amen.
– A Cry for Mercy by Henri Nouwen
Did you catch what Nouwen wrote in the last quoted paragraph? He wrote that he tried to be faithful despite his inclinations of faithlessness.
Have you ever tried to be faithful?
Perhaps you tried to be patient, or kind, or gentle, or pure, or selfless? To be blunt how’d that work out?
I don’t know about you, but I fail. I fail way more than I would like! Even in those times I do succeed, I step away from the situation utterly exhausted. Thanks to the work in books like Willpower, we now know that humans have a limited amount of willpower that becomes depleted throughout the day. While Baumeister and Tierney offer helpful suggestions on the subject of willpower in everyday life, when it comes to the willpower of faith Nouwen is discussing, I am afraid it just cannot be implemented in the same capacity.
When I try faithfulness, I end up with moments of great success and failures. However, the God revealed in the Bible does not measure our lives on an average or curve. He measures it compared to his holiness, and we come up woefully short.
Fortunately, the great message of Jesus the Messiah, is that God himself reconciles the world through Jesus. We are saved through his faithfulness and are justified through his salvific work (see II Timothy 2:13 and II Corinthians 5:19).
Reader, don’t be burnt out through your own strength. Instead, trust in Jesus and his faithfulness. Everything else will be added to you through his Spirit who lives and dwells in you.