Gracious Father:

Forgive me for my faltering faith in the gospel. Consistently I live below its privileges, contentedly playing with mudpies in the slums when a holiday at sea is on offer. I fail to apply its rich benefits every day. I fail to see myself as you see me, and I fail to live with the joy and thanksgiving that should characterize your children.

I know this is true, Father, because of how I respond to criticism. When others speak ill of me, fairly or unfairly, I should respond out of the knowledge that you will never criticize me. You have already laid on Christ all of your righteous judgment for every past, present, and future imperfection in me. Furthermore, you have already bestowed upon me the rigtheous reward Christ deserved for obeying your law perfectly.

Simply put, you see me as you see Jesus. You love me as you love Jesus. You favor me as you favor Jesus. You, the just judge of the universe, accept me without reservation and in perfect love in Christ. Why would I ever worry or be troubled by the criticism of others? Yet so often the words of others sting. So often the judgments of others get beneath my skin. So often my sense of value is wrapped up in what others think of me. Help me, Father, to believe the gospel more.

I see more evidence of my unbelief when things don’t go my way. Everyone faces setbacks and disappointments in life. This is normal. I should respond to those normal setbacks by trusting in your perfect will and surrendering to the good purposes that you always have in steering the course of my life. Instead, I obsess over whatever personal failures or weaknesses might have contributed to my disappointments. I overanalyze my shortcomings, hoping that by growing out of those shortcomings I can manipulate my way toward positive outcomes. In short, I seek to control you through my performance.

But the gospel tells me that I don’t need to perform for you, Lord. The gospel tells me that I could not earn one more ounce of your favor than I already have. If this is true, then the successes I enjoy are not earned by my accomplishments or talents and the disappointments I experience are not caused by my deficiencies. Every good thing that I enjoy is a gift from your hand, and every hard thing that I experience is a test from your heart – for my good and for your glory.

Lord, help my unbelief. Give me greater confidence in your love for me through Christ. Help me to apply your saving grace to the dark corners and broken cracks of my heart. Help me to understand, in my head and in my heart, how profoundly you are satisfied with me. May that understanding lead to greater joy, the peace that surpasses all understanding, and prayerful dependence on you in my life. Amen.

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