“What Is Troubling You?”

—Molly Richards, CCC member

“I’m not actually good at things I think I should be good at.”

This was a dismal, but not earthshaking journal entry I made a few weeks ago.

It wasn’t a self-abasing complaint, instead it was an honest answer to Greg’s recent sermon prompt:

Name what’s troubling you
Link it to the God of Scripture
Ask for Help

Since Greg’s sermon, I’ve been using this exercise on my own to help bring to the surface anxieties that I normally wouldn’t name.

Thus the downcast entry: What is troubling you? I’m troubled that I’m not actually good at things I think I should be good at.

In providential parallel, I’ve also been following a Scripture reading plan called “The Names of God” focusing on the different ways God’s character is revealed by his names. This has brought into focus details that sometimes get lost in my overall picture of “God.”

For example, El Shaddai, God Almighty who is powerful to bring about seemingly impossible change in my life. Immanuel, God With Us who is intimately attuned to my daily troubles and fears. El Qanna, Jealous God who will not share his glory or pander to our misplaced affections (difficult and challenging contrast to the gentle compassion of Abba Father).

I grew up in the church, I can recite the first catechism answer, yet this intimate and specific connection of God’s character to my daily bumps and bruises, to my petty and passive aggressive reactions, and my self-doubting longings is something new. This is God in all His active, mysterious, vivid complexity, not a still portrait whose face I’ve memorized.

Coming back to my Journal Entry:

Name your Trouble:

I’m not actually good at things I think I should be good at.

Link it with the God of Scripture:

  • God Almighty, El Shaddai who moved powerfully in Abraham and Sarah’s life to fulfill His promise of a multitude of nations (Genesis 17:1-8) will also move powerfully in me. He will bring about change, in accordance with who he has made me to be.

  • God Himself, Immanuel promised to be with Moses through the perilous exodus to the promised land (Exodus 33:12-17). So too, He is right here with me, even through weakness, doubts, and difficulty (Revelation 21:3).

Ask for Prayer:

Pray that I would remember that El Shaddai moves powerfully to bring about his story. Immanuel is with me through discomfort and poor performances, and uncertainty, His power will embolden me, His love will heal and comfort me.

Through the simple exercise of answering “what is troubling you” and connecting that to the names of God, my understanding of God immediately comes to life, rooted in the details of my experience. I see myself in relationship not with a single, static image of God, but with a vibrant, complex, nuanced Creator, who loves me wholly, and is working powerfully in me—even though I’m not (yet) good at things I think I should be good at.