Gospel-powered faith is vibrant. Religion is miserable. Here’s are the signs of miserable faith that Paul Tripp identifies in Forever: Why You Can’t Live Without It.
1. Disappointment with God.
There are more professing believers that are disappointed with God than we think. Because we don’t look at life from the perspective of eternity, we misunderstand what God is doing in the here and now. The result is that we think he has not given us the life that he has promised.
2. Lack of motivation for ministry.
If you are not excited about and thankful for the life that God has given you through the resurrection of his Son, you certainly won’t be excited about sharing that life with others. A life of vibrant ministry is not the result of ministry training, but the result of a deep conviction that God is who he has said he is and that he is doing all that he promised to do. Ministry always flows from a thankful heart.
When you’re disappointed with your life, you will find ways to escape it. That may come in the form of busyness. You fill your schedule to the brim to keep yourself from having a moment to think. Or you may try to escape by watching way too much television. You’re watching not because you’re addicted to the content before you, but because you’re addicted to the escape that content provides for you. Or you may try to flee life by spending endless hours on the Internet, in the dark escape of the buzz of pornography, or in the temporary pleasure of too much food or alcohol. Maybe your escape is a hobby, sport, or outdoor activity. The point is that you are either facing life with hope and courage or you are finding a way to escape it.
4. Envy of others’ lives.
When you’re disappointed with your life, it is tempting to scan the lives of others and see how they’re doing. Invariably you will find someone near you who is enjoying the things that seemed to pass you by. It’s hard in these moments not to wish you could exchange addresses with them. It’s also hard not to accuse God of getting the wrong address. Envy always doubts God, and envy always assumes someone else is getting what you deserve. But most of all, envy forgets eternity and only measures life by what is happening right here, right now.
5. Letting go of the habits of faith.
When you’re disappointed with something, you don’t want to invest in or participate in it. Why read God’s Word, why pray, why hang around with other believers, why read good Christian books, and why encourage others to believe when none of those things seem to make a difference? You’re convinced your faith isn’t working, and that makes pursuing it further very difficult.
6. Greater susceptibility to temptation.
When my faith is exciting and precious to me, the things that would woo me away are not as attractive as they are when my faith doesn’t seem to be working. When I am disappointed with God, it is much easier to step outside boundaries.