One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to memorize a new passage of scripture each month. For August I chose Romans 7:15-25 in the Message translation. Well, that’s not entirely accurate. Apparently I bit off a little more than I could chew with this passage! The truer statement would be, for August AND July AND June, I chose Romans 7:15-25! It took me a while but I think I’ll finally make it! 😉
I feel like this passage came directly from my heart! As a food addict with binge eating disorder, I cannot tell you how many times I have said to myself that I simply couldn’t understand why I kept repeating the same destructive patterns over and over again! I would do well for a while but then inevitably something would happen and I would slip back into a period of sitting in my house stuffing myself sick with high fat, high sugar foods. I know all too well how this behavior makes me feel: miserable! But I felt like I could not stop. Eventually, I would get fed up with the natural repercussions of my binge (sleepless nights, clothes beginning to fit too tight, shame leading to feeling distant from God) and I’d “get back on the wagon”.
I don’t know exactly what Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” was, but based on Romans 7:15-25 (MSG), he struggled with the same vicious cycle I do:
What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary.But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.
It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.
I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?
The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.
So today as I was working on memorizing this passage (2 more days left in August…2 more sentences to go! Woohoo!), I got to verse 24:
I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope…
It struck a chord in me. “I’m at the end of my rope”. How many times have I repeated that very statement to the Lord? I could picture it. My living room full of Krispy Kreme boxes, McDonald’s, Wendy’s & Jack n’ the Box wrappers, and empty cartons of Ben & Jerry’s Strawberry New York Cheesecake ice cream. Then in a moment of utter desperation and hopelessness I would cry out, “God! Help me! I’m at the end of my rope”! And there it is. The place God had been trying to get me to for however long I’ve been ignoring Him this time. That is where I will always find Him. At the end of my rope.
I’ve always heard it said that “God will never put more on you than you can bear”. As a matter of fact I’ve quoted that very sentiment many times from stage. But you know what I realized? That verse does NOT say God wouldn’t put more on us than we can bear. 1 Corinthians 10:13 promises that God will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear (which makes it a great scripture to quote when tempted with food…or anything else. Here are some more.). There is a difference. You see, I believe God WILL allow us to be in circumstances beyond our own abilities to endure. After all, if we could bear it on our own, we would try to! But that is not where God wants us. He wants us at the end of our rope, because that is where we finally recognize that we cannot handle it ourselves. We need Him.
“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened…” (Matt. 11:28 NIV)
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me“. (Php. 4:13 NKJV)
“My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness…” (2 Cor. 12:9a NIV)
If you find yourself at the end of your rope today, know that that is exactly where you should be. For it’s at the end of your rope, that you’ll find Jesus. He is with you. He’ll never leave you or forsake you. In the middle of a whatever difficult circumstances you are facing, He may very well calm the storm around you (Mark 4:35-39) or He may allow the storm to rage but cause you to walk on water (Matt. 14:23-32). However He chooses to work, our job is simply to keep our focus on Him and trust in His strength. If you do, He will bring you out STRONGER!