Brightly-colored plastic straws
Yes, it’s true: straws suck. Photo by Hartono Subagio (

Grasping at Straws

Lately, I’ve been looking for hope it all the wrong places. It’s foolishness, I know, but that hasn’t stopped me from trying. It seems like an inevitable, inescapable cycle: I seek my own will, fail miserably, and then cry out to God when I get stuck. When will I ever learn to simply trust in Him alone?

In matters I prefer to reference vaguely, it’s been my unspoken modus operandi to act first and ask questions (of God) later. Somehow, I think I know myself better than God. Oh, I say, you can’t be serious! You don’t realize what you’re asking of me. I’m so messed up I could never be used effectively for Your kingdom, much less hope to find fulfillment in love, life, and the universe.

We men believe a lot of lies. Many of those lies we make up ourselves, but others still are perpetrated by Satan. Past failures and feelings of inadequacy are often used against us to keep us from doing what’s right, from doing the will of God rather than our own. Leave me to my shame, God, I’m useless. How many times can I come back to you disheveled, filthy, and covered in sin? Does your love truly know no bounds?

God’s ways are not our ways, nor are His thoughts our own. All too often I think that God thinks like I do. If I’m disgusted with myself, how much more is God disgusted with me? It’s true that sin separates us from God, but it’s not true that God wishes to be separated from us. In fact, it’s His will that we should escape the due punishment of death and enter into a relationship with Him, so that He might ultimately be glorified in our lives.

I’ve been striving in my own strength to win favor with people, to be found appealing in the eyes of others. Many of these people are not Christians, and even worse, some think they are. How stupid am I to think that any attention I might receive would be of significance? The reality is that as a Christian, people are not going to like me. If they do, my faith doesn’t speak loud enough to make them uncomfortable.

God has recently revealed to me the end result of my immediate, selfish desires. It was a devastating blow to both my self-esteem and my hopes, but it was also a wakeup call. Unless I put myself and my future into God’s hands, nothing I do will ever match the success I can have through Him. Striving on my own merits is like grasping at straws: it’s futile, nothing good can come of it, and it can hurt.

So when you think you know what to do, take a pause. It’s important to apply the knowledge you’ve gained from past experiences, but don’t discount the possibility that you don’t know what you’re talking about.

Trust in the LORD with all thy heart; and lean not to thy own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he will direct thy paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6