18 But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness.19 They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them.20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So, they have no excuse for not knowing God.
Romans 1:18-20 NLT
I used to think of the apostle Paul’s implied indictment, in the above passage, as harsh. It is true that God’s reality and presence are manifested in all that is created. It is also true that the nature of design makes it difficult to refute the hand of a divine Designer. I also cannot deny that within me lies an innate sense of right and wrong. My impression of harshness changed when I considered the context and content of this letter to the early Roman church. Paul was laying the groundwork to justify (in later chapters) Christ’s redemptive work despite humanity’s indifference and rebellion.
In a similar fashion, as a person, I prized my own way and rejected any limits or boundaries that did not align with my pursuits. Interestingly, this attitude carried over to my attempts (all of which proved futile) to change my destructive habits. Resolutions were useless because I would always break them. Increased church going, prayer and religious activities just continued to make me feel more guilty about my brokenness. Reading well-meant self-help books by various Christian writers was useful but I always stopped at the suggestions for change because I really did not want to give up these habits that I thought crucial to my survival. I also thought that there was no prayer or mode of thinking that could change me. Individual confession to pastoral figures was temporarily relieving but the absence of accountability always led me back to my habit. During that time, I thought therapy to be somewhat ineffective because I was either not challenged to admit my problem or when I was, I completely denied it and lied about its extent. (Of course, as a therapist now I know that therapy is only as beneficial as the effort to change invested by the client.)
It is only when I admitted my powerlessness over my various struggles and became willing to open myself up to others that the opportunity for healing became apparent. Hope was born when I realized that there were others who had overcome and were willing to help me.
As you reflect on where God has you today, it may seem hopeless. The circumstance that you are facing may appear unchangeable. The hope of Christ lives in other believers who have overcome similar situations. Share your impossibility with others who love you and see God present hope through encouragement from others.