By Aaron Baker
Who am I? Why am I here? How do I describe myself? What is my identity?
Some of my earliest memories center on those very questions. From the time we are children, it’s fair to say we all wonder about our identity. The older we get, the worse it becomes. We compare physical attributes, intellect, athleticism, careers, homes, cars, bank accounts, possessions, number of children and a million other things to those around us.
To make matters worse, people of faith often take things a step further. Spend any amount of time in a church setting and you’ll see others (and almost certainly find yourself) comparing faith against others. “They tithe more than us.” “We volunteer more than them.” “He’s such a good Christian.” “She’s such a hypocrite.” Get the picture? Sound familiar? Yep…it does to me too. I can be one of the worst offenders.
Often, I tend to fall into the trap of placing a great deal of my identity in things I can control. Yep, I am a control freak. I admit it. This isn’t a huge revelation to anyone that knows me. I crave being in control. Problem is…there are many, many things in my life I have no influence over.
My family recently went through a very tough period of trial, when my daughter experienced a major health problem. For me as a parent, there is nothing worse than watching your child suffer pain, fear, and questions of faith. While I am so very thankful her condition was not worse, it was still very serious. It was especially hard for me to endure because I was unable to control anything about it. I was unable to ease her suffering and improve her physical condition. As her body deteriorated and seemingly refused to heal itself, I watched her question her faith and ask “why is God not answering prayers from us and others to heal me?” As a family, my wife and oldest daughter had to experience an extreme sense of helplessness that caused all of us to suffer with her. It was devastating. I had many talks with God that bordered on irreverent, as I struggled to understand why this was happening.
In the midst of all of this, we watched our healthy, vibrant, happy, Christian family come unglued.
The things on which we had built our identities crumbled beneath us. Luckily, we were surrounded by an amazing support structure of family and friends that held us up. They reminded us that God loved us and was in control, even though it seemed He had forgotten us. We were slowly able to regain our identity (with a corrected perspective), individually and as a family, while God reminded us that by His grace we are saved, and our identities are not in ourselves. I was reminded of the punch-in-the-face truth that I am really in control of nothing, other than my faithfulness to Christ. Zero. Zilch. Zip. To assume, or expect, anything else is wasted effort and inviting disappointment.
So, I ask (as I ask myself)…where is your identity? As ones who call ourselves Christians and followers of Christ, we are to find our identity in Him alone. Keep focused on that fact, even in times of trial, when it’s easy to focus solely on ourselves and what we are going through. All the while, forgetting what Christ went through to redeem us to Himself and the Father. In times of trial, we need to focus on what the Bible tells us about our identity. Here are some reminders:
- We are chosen by God – 1 Thessalonians 1:4
- We are loved beyond measure – 1 John 4:19, 4:10, 3:16, Romans 5:8, 8:35-39
- We are children of the most high – 1 John 3:1, Galatians 3:26
- We will never escape God’s love and care – 2 Corinthians 1:22, John 10:28-29