Despite a crushing work deadline, I’m playing Solitaire on my computer. The project’s overbearing demands weary me. But coursing deep below them, like an underground river, is a more profound fatigue.
I’m tired of all of life’s have-to’s.
You know the feeling—like you want to cut loose with a primal scream. Parenting can do that to you. Caring for elderly parents or extended family can do it. Time-consuming disciplines to maintain a tenuous baseline of relative health can do it. My head knows I don’t have as many have-to’s as some people. But my heart doesn’t.
And comparison doesn’t help.
Frankly, comparison doesn’t matter. Have-to’s in any form impose limits or losses on you. They force you to trade what you’d like to do for what you need to do.
When have-to’s win
Sometimes life deals you so many have-to’s that they obliterate all your want-to’s,
You shelve your dreams. Abandon your hopes. Drop-kick your goals to the curb and huddle in survival mode.
The loss is real. You don’t have to be homeless, impoverished, or critically ill to be overwhelmed with have-to’s. Some seasons of life are simply that way. If you can afford a vacation, it can help temporarily. But it doesn’t slow the undercurrent.
Just like underground rivers can seep into stone, have-to’s can seep into your spiritual life.
Satan relentlessly looks for ways to gain ground in your life—and have-to’s make good footholds.
How Satan weaponizes have-to’s
I don’t want to give the enemy more credit than he’s due, so let me put this into perspective. Satan’s only weapons against you are deception and division. He weaponizes both with accusations.
(1) Deception: God told you He wouldn’t give you more than you can handle. Yet here you stand, with problems bigger than you can bear.
(2) Division: Your problems are too big for God. You can’t count on Him to help you because He doesn’t really care about you.
When we buy those lies, we start to recast our have-to’s as deserve-to’s. I’ve had such a tough time / lost so much / missed so much / gone without so long that I deserve to ____.
The best lies are sprinkled with truth. Satan is a master at that. So let’s dismantle his accusations.
(1a) God DOES give you more than you can handle.
(Unfortunately, Americanized Christianity often preaches otherwise.) God dishes you an overfull plate so you can learn to trust Him unconditionally.
(1b) God has already experienced all you’re going through—plus much more.
Although Jesus was still God, He walked among us as fully man. He got hungry and tired; felt disappointment, rejection, loneliness. He actually had it harder than we do because He was tempted in every way but never gave in to it—even as He died a brutal death.
(2a) Nothing is impossible for God—including your problems (Matthew 19:26; Luke 1:37).
He solves every problem perfectly, with perfect timing. But not how we expect it. We need to expectantly wait-pray so we can see the solution when it appears.
(2b) Satan will do anything to separate you from God.
The greater the distance between you and God, the more space Satan has in which to work. He’ll tell you God is too busy to give a flying fig about your problems. Nothing could be further from the truth. God promises repeatedly, “I will never leave or forsake you.”
Ever wonder why God coupled those words in His promise?
Neither leave nor forsake
You can come back to something you leave. But forsaking is permanent abandonment. Complete renouncement. Washing one’s hands of a situation forever. With sweeping all-inclusiveness, God says He won’t do either of those to us. Ever.
He told that to:
- Jacob (Genesis 28:15)
- The Israelites (Deuteronomy 31:8)
- Joshua (Joshua 1:5, 9)
- Solomon (1 Chronicles 28:20)
- The poor and needy (Isaiah 41:17)
Hebrews 13:5 quotes Deuteronomy in reassuring early Christians of God’s abiding presence in their lives.
You may feel forgotten or forsaken when mired in have-to’s, but the sinless Christ truly did feel forsaken while on the Cross. That was an infinitely greater anguish to Him than the other horrors He endured. But God only “left” Him just long enough to turn His back on Jesus while accepting His sacrifice for our sins.
The Bible stamps in triplicate God’s promise to never leave or forsake us.
- God the Father: promises in the Old Testament
- God the Son: Jesus promised He would be with us “always, until the very end of the age” (perpetually throughout eternity) (Matthew 28:20)
- God the Holy Spirit: promised to be with us forever (John 14:16)
That won’t shorten your have-to list, but it will lessen its burden. You are never alone!
How have you found that to be true? How has God worked that way in your life? Share in the comments!
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The song I listen to the most when life gets tough: “Courageous”