rebelling against low expectations

God Doesn’t Need You To “Just Try Harder”

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“Dear God, help me keep this attitude. I’m not feeling this way on my own.”

I was sitting in the car and turning over the question in my head: How do I balance romantic dreams with contentment in God’s will? I was not thinking of a specific relationship, but in that moment I decided, nonetheless, that I would be content with whatever God had for me in the future. Yes, I was only a young teen, but I recognized that it was an important attitude to start from. But I also knew that this attitude could never sprout from my own heart.

It could only have been put there by God.

There was no way I could be so content and peaceful on my own–especially concerning one of my greatest dreams. It wasn’t my working that brought that attitude–it was God’s.

The Lie That We Have To Try More

Are you looking to be more content, more patient, or just more like Christ–but feel like you keep on failing? If so, I have something to say to you. There is something I missed for years; something you could be missing too, a wrong idea we get tangled up in. My wrong thinking could have been summed up in my belief in the lie: “If I’m going to be like Christ, I’ve got to work harder!”

And I lived this belief out. I struggled for years trying to “get it right”. I tried and I tried.

  • I tried to read my Bible consistently.
  • I tried to be kinder to my siblings.
  • I tried to obey my parents.

But with all my trying, I only ended up with a self-righteous, prideful, self-love–nothing close to what I had intended. I knew it wasn’t right, but I didn’t know what to do about it. I was guilty, and I couldn’t do a thing.

In John Bunyan’s book, The Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian has a terrible burden. It is ugly and heavy and despised by its bearer. Christian wants to take it off, but he cannot–try as he might. Only when he comes to the cross and stands in its shadow does his burden tumble off.

We cannot do anything about our “burden” of sin. When we try to take it off on our own, we can make no progress. Ironically, we sometimes end up with an even heavier burden than before.

The Cure For Our Failures: His Perfection

We recognize that our sins and failures are a heavy burden. Having the diagnosis for your sin is important–but you also need a cure. The cure that can only be given by God.

When Jesus paid for our sin by dying in our place, He made a way for us to have a relationship with Him and to be saved from our sin. God does an amazing work of sanctification in the lives of His children. We will never be perfect here on earth, but God will be faithful to constantly make us more like Him.

And all we have to do is ask.

Matthew 7:7-8 says, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”

Jesus tells us to ask. To pray. To call out to Him for help. This is a prayer, that if said in faith (James 1:6), that is sure to be answered. Although we will always struggle with sin, God is pleased to supply us with strength for every fight and a way out of every temptation (1 Cor. 10:13). We can be assured that God will make His children like Him, for we are “sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6).

Stop Trying, And Rest In His Empowerment and Grace

When we come to His feet knowing that we have nothing and can do nothing, it is almost painfully humbling. But then, after the pain of humiliation, comes the amazing joy of clinging to Jesus alone and the greater realization of God’s amazing love.

When we realize we have absolutely nothing to offer, Christ’s sacrifice on the cross is seen as it truly is: undeserved. Through the humility and tears, we see how great the love of God is “for such a worm as I”.

Stop trying, ask God for help, and stand in awe at His amazing grace.


About the author

Rachel Ward

is a teen girl who hopes to encourage other teens through her writing to be productive and effective, to love and serve others, and to love God. Rachel loves sunny days, the feeling after a good run, and making LOTS of schedules and lists. She hopes that you will feel at home when reading her writing and that you will leave feeling inspired and encouraged. Rachel blogs over at https://joyfulcreationsblog.wordpress.com/.

rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →

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