God Knows Your Secret Struggles
by Lisa Whittle
I’ve spent the past fifteen years studying Psalm 51.
If Psalms is the soundtrack for the many emotions of King David, Psalm 51 is, perhaps, its cover song. It is the guttural response of a man’s contrite heart after being visited by a good prophet named Nathan, who confronts him for his sin with Bathsheba and subsequent plot to murder her husband. The whole situation was messy and horribly wrong. When you stop and think about the details for a minute, it involves sins that many of us would find unforgivable.
The story is one of forgiveness, though. David confessed and repented, and God forgave him, though not without consequence. God always knew about the sin. David might have thought he was keeping secrets, but there is nowhere to achieve true hiddenness from the omniscience of God.
A most famous verse, Psalm 51:10, is for many a personal favorite. “God, create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” David knew that God and only God could give him a fresh start. The clean slate wasn’t possible by mentally turning the page. Lasting renewal wasn’t possible with a weekend retreat. Those things are great, but they aren’t permanent solutions.
If only a secret could be outed with no further complication.
If only consequences wouldn’t come with pain.
If only we could bypass the process of God to a quicker healing.
If only transformations were as easy as promises in a social media ad.
But David knew. None of his mess could be sorted out without God. He was the One with His eye on the problem the whole time because, as always, He was the One to provide the solution. It seems even in David’s lust for pleasure and power, he was looking for God all along, which is our same misstep.
No one else will ever fit in the spot in our heart intended for God.
And if that feels intrusive, please also do not forget that God created that heart. He alone keeps it beating. He is the One to tend to it when it is hurt or breaks.
The interesting thing about our secret struggles is that when we picture them, we often picture them as selfish and dark. A struggle may get there, but often it starts with tenderness, feelings of helplessness over people or circumstances we can’t fix or love enough to help. There are three important insights to remember as you think of your secret struggle.
Just because something is packaged prettier doesn’t mean it’s not causing us pain or keeping us from intimacy with God.
You might not be addicted to porn, but you could be equally committed to your perfectionism. Your desire to do things perfectly all the time may well have robbed just as much out of your life as something that on the surface feels much more sinister. Maybe it’s that you love to shop, and it feels harmless, but that “harmless” habit has you hiding purchases from your husband. I’ve seen the funny memes about this too. I’ve laughed at them. But is having to skirt around our actions really funny? Is it really harmless when things like this lead to debt that people struggle to get out of and relationships that get comfortable with not telling our spouse the full truth? I’ve gotten emails about wives struggling over secret credit cards. It happens a lot. Most important, does God know about the thing keeping you from living fully free, as He intended, and if He does, does it matter to Him what that thing looks like?
The truth is, slipping into things is much more common than jumping into them headfirst. Entrapment requires the element of surprise. Stay aware.
Getting into a struggle is one thing, but staying engaged in a struggle is another.
Don’t let the surface good-naturedness of your secret struggle make you believe it’s okay to keep hiding it from everyone who could help. And don’t let the gravity of a deep, dark, difficult one make you feel it is too big or out of control for God’s intervention.
Many times, the reason we get into struggles isn’t the reason we stay in them. A struggle may feel familiar and even safe even though it hurts us. Maybe we don’t know how to find our way out. Maybe we don’t fully realize the depth of what we are in. We all have different reasons, but we aren’t very different in how we approach them. We either settle for them, deny them, wrestle with them, or seek a way out.
Our revelation about our struggle requires us to ask God for the insight only He has.
You might have chosen something, and you wish you could pull away from it, but you don’t see a way out. You might not have meant to be where you are now—but regardless, you are there, and you need God to help you.
It is good to seek help. It is right. It is godly. It is not weak to go see a counselor or take medicine, for your body or your brain. It is strong. Sometimes we get too far into something to be able to see where the exits are. Let someone love you with a hand to lead you to the exit.
I have come to believe that sometimes even when people think they know us, they don’t. And what we are willing to show people about us isn’t always the true picture. God is really the only One who ever truly knows us.
Because God knows my secret struggle, I don’t have to live in fear of it being revealed.
Taken from “God Knows: When Your Worries and Whys Need More Than Temporary Relief” by Lisa Whittle. Copyright 2023 by Lisa Whittle. Used with permission from Thomas Nelson.
Lisa Whittle has dedicated her life to writing and speaking about the truth of Jesus Christ and how wanting Him the most changes everything. Lisa is the author of 7 books and a new Bible study, including Jesus Over Everything, and a sought-out Bible teacher for her wit and bold, bottom line approach. Her with you-for you signature style is a favorite of audiences who have her coming back to speak into them year, after year. From retreats to rehab facilities to college campuses to the large church or conference stage, Lisa’s desire remains the same: to point people to the Jesus who can change their life.