It might sound overly dramatic, but it’s true. Everything either draws me closer to or distances me from God. At the very least, I stay put, which means I’m not growing. I want to grow. I want my faith to strengthen.
Even when my faith is strengthening, I can be in vulnerable situations. Doing pull-ups strengthens my arms but leaves me vulnerable to the playground ball being kicked by nearby kids. Rock-climbing strengthens my arms and legs but leaves me vulnerable to falls. Resistance bands build my muscles but can harm me if they snap. Strength and vulnerability go hand-in-hand because the process of building strength exposes me to injury.
Being vulnerable isn’t sufficient reason to avoid building strength.
God wants to strengthen my faith. He wants me to be vulnerable through the process, because the vulnerability allows him to work within me. Becoming vulnerable is a process of trust.
However, we must recognize that our faith is often vulnerable as we’re building strength. We can become so focused on the strength-building that we neglect safety precautions.
We must always be discerning. Just because we’re in a Bible study, worship service, or Christian conference doesn’t assume everything we’re reading, hearing, and learning is biblically-based. We’re strengthening our faith by our involvement in such groups and events, but let’s not ignore warning signs the Holy Spirit is giving us to caution us to discern between what is God’s truth and what is not.
Just because our friends or family members profess to be faithful Christ-followers doesn’t mean they will always provide us with godly advice. They’re human and will make mistakes just as we will. It’s not their responsibility to make our choices for us. They certainly can help us by pointing us toward God’s truth, but we are still personally responsible for the decisions we make and paths we take.
Consider David’s cries and praises in Psalm 22. Look for vulnerabilities and strength. He experiences both and knows the source of both. Do you?
My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? You seem far from saving me, far away from my groans. My God, I call to you during the day, but you do not answer. I call at night; I am not silent. You sit as the Holy One. The praises of Israel are your throne. Our ancestors trusted you; they trusted, and you saved them. They called to you for help and were rescued. They trusted you and were not disappointed. But I am like a worm instead of a man. People make fun of me and hate me. Those who look at me laugh. They stick out their tongues and shake their heads. They say, “Turn to the Lord for help. Maybe he will save you. If he likes you, maybe he will rescue you.” You had my mother give birth to me. You made me trust you while I was just a baby. I have leaned on you since the day I was born; you have been my God since my mother gave me birth. So don’t be far away from me. Now trouble is near, and there is no one to help. People have surrounded me like angry bulls. Like the strong bulls of Bashan, they are on every side. Like hungry, roaring lions they open their mouths at me. My strength is gone, like water poured out onto the ground, and my bones are out of joint. My heart is like wax; it has melted inside me. My strength has dried up like a clay pot, and my tongue sticks to the top of my mouth. You laid me in the dust of death. Evil people have surrounded me; like dogs they have trapped me. They have bitten my arms and legs. I can count all my bones; people look and stare at me. They divided my clothes among them, and they threw lots for my clothing. But, Lord, don’t be far away. You are my strength; hurry to help me. Save me from the sword; save my life from the dogs. Rescue me from the lion’s mouth; save me from the horns of the bulls. Then I will tell my brothers and sisters about you; I will praise you in the public meeting. Praise the Lord, all you who respect him. All you descendants of Jacob, honor him; fear him, all you Israelites. He does not ignore those in trouble. He doesn’t hide from them but listens when they call out to him. Lord, I praise you in the great meeting of your people; these worshipers will see me do what I promised. Poor people will eat until they are full; those who look to the Lord will praise him. May your hearts live forever! People everywhere will remember and will turn to the Lord. All the families of the nations will worship him because the Lord is King, and he rules the nations. All the powerful people on earth will eat and worship. Everyone will bow down to him, all who will one day die. The people in the future will serve him; they will always be told about the Lord. They will tell that he does what is right. People who are not yet born will hear what God has done.