You Can’t Live A Victorious Christian Life Alone

Jana Carlson

Jana Carlson

We were designed to need each other. Overcome the risks of relationship and enjoy the rewards!

Anxiety had taken over my body. Certain situations became triggers for which I had to prepare myself hours in advance – like church, grocery shopping, doctor’s appointments. Even though the anxiety was completely illogical, my body would react to those triggers, leaving me nauseous, faint and on the verge of collapse. I felt like I was losing my mind and I hated it. I felt completely defeated and it was humiliating.

I struggled in silence for far too long. Eventually, I talked to my doctor about it, but healing was slow. I was on a painful journey of recovery from a host of health issues. It was a dark and lonely time. At my weakest, I wondered how I could possibly endure another day. I doubted that I’d ever experience victory in the anxiety battle.

The physical stress was high, but it was my mental anguish that finally led me to open up to a friend. I simply could not suffer alone anymore.

Sometimes life is unbearable. It can seem like continuing on in our current state is too much to handle on our own. How do we press on when we’re physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually exhausted and overwhelmed? How do we survive when our burdens are crushing us? How can we experience victory in the midst of impossible circumstances?

Hebrews 12 gives us a prescription:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. (Hebrews 12:1-3)

Surround Yourself

Hebrews 12:1 starts off with “since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses” and leads intolet us run with endurance“. Being surrounded by these “witnesses” is an important part of being able to run with endurance. And remembering what Jesus had to endure in order to fulfill the call God had on His life will prevent us from growing weary or fainthearted (Hebrews 12:2-3).

We need to see what faith looks like in real-life situations, to be reminded that endurance is possible.

Surrounding ourselves with “a great cloud of witnesses” does not happen automatically. We must be intentional in reading about and meeting inspiring people. We need to surround ourselves with people who know God’s Word, know how to pray, and can support and encourage us in our difficulties. We were not created or designed to be solitary beings.

You Were Created For Fellowship

God created Eve to be Adam’s helper (Genesis 2:18) But God didn’t create her immediately after deciding it was not good for Adam to be alone. He created all kinds of animals first! He wasn’t just looking for a suitable spouse for Adam. He knew that Adam needed companionship, fellowship, someone to work alongside him, talk to, and live life with. It wasn’t just about marriage and “being fruitful and multiplying.”

There’s so much Scripture that talks about the importance of fellowship. 

  • Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 – Two are better than one because we can help each other up and keep each other warm. We are stronger together. 
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:11 – Encourage each other and build each other up. 
  • Proverbs 27:17 – Godly fellowship sharpens us and makes us more effective (iron sharpening iron).
  • Galatians 6:2 – Bear one another’s burdens.

You Need Someone to Hold Up Your Arms

Even Moses couldn’t do it alone. Exodus 17 tells the story of Moses having to hold up his arms to ensure victory for the Israelites. Their lives depended on it!

What an incredible responsibility! “No pressure, Moses, but if you let your arms fall, we’re all dead.” I can almost feel that burning in the biceps, the shakiness consuming his shoulders, the tension developing in his neck.

Eventually, Aaron and Hur came alongside Moses and held up his arms. They couldn’t take his place. They couldn’t do his job. But they could support him as he endured what God had called him to do.

God’s design for the Church – His family – is all about fellowship, togetherness, unity, helping and encouraging and supporting each other. It’s not easy. We hurt each other sometimes. (Families are usually dysfunctional in some way!) But God still uses us and His design is still the best design. His way is the best way. It works and accomplishes His purposes.

Fear of Fellowship is Real

When we’re weary and exhausted and struggling, we often tend to shrink back and isolate ourselves. We don’t want to inconvenience anybody. We know everyone else has their own struggles to deal with. Or we’re afraid of being hurt or rejected and we don’t think we can handle that right now.

During my health struggle and battle with anxiety, I resisted opening up to someone because I didn’t believe anyone could help. I knew what God’s Word had to say about anxiety. I was spending a great deal of time in praise and worship, studying and meditating on Scripture, seeking the Lord, praying. I thought I was doing “all the right things” and there was nothing else another person could suggest. (That was ugly pride, by the way!)

But when I shared with an older and wiser friend, she shed fresh light on one of my favorite passages of Scripture. It hit me like a freight train! Immediately, I knew what I’d been missing and what I had to do. Not only that, I now had an advocate and a support person who faithfully prayed for me and encouraged me and checked up on me with care and compassion. It gave me what I needed to press on and not give up.

Today, I’m much quicker to seek out someone who could teach me or encourage me in specific areas of my life. Even if they have no new information for me, just being able to share makes a difference.

Reaching Out is Risky

This feels like risky business. Maybe you’re reading this and saying:

  • “Ask me to do anything else, but don’t tell me to reach out for help or make myself vulnerable.”
  • “There’s no one for me to turn to for help or encouragement or prayer support.”
  • “Been there. Done that. I know very well how that’s going to end and I refuse to open myself up to that kind of hurt again.”
  • “I’m the only Christian I know.”
  • “I’m a busy mom with too many spinning plates and cannot fathom finding time to talk to someone about something other than car pools and soccer practice.”
  • “There are Godly women I’d love to talk to and learn from but they’re so busy and have their own families. Why would they ever make time for me and my own problems?”

I know. I’ve been there:

  • Told by a pastor, “Counselling is not my job. I can’t help you.”
  • Judged after pouring out my heart and told to “suck it up”
  • Preached at about how my situation was my own fault
  • Told I was wrong to feel the way I was feeling
  • Didn’t know any Christians I could talk to who were in a position to pray for me or encourage me
  • Rejected by friends when my circumstances took a turn, when I needed friends the most
  • So busy taking care of my family and other responsibilities that I didn’t believe I had time to seek out the fellowship that would nourish my spirit

I’ve been hurt, betrayed, rejected, judged, ignored, and belittled. So I understand the risks.

Realistic Expectations

To surround myself with the fellowship I need, I must take that treacherous step. I must be real and open. I must reach out and let others know I need them.

Our tendency is to hold unrealistic expectations. We want others to know automatically when we need them and what we need from them. But most people are not perceptive enough to know that without us telling them. And that’s okay.

Most people are willing and eager to help or encourage or pray when you let them know what you need. (Not all, but most.)

Don’t take it personally if you reach out to someone and they let you know they can’t help. Don’t camp out there. Let it go. Forgive. Move on.

There IS someone else who WILL be there for you. Manage your expectations realistically. It won’t always look the way you want it to. It might not be a friend in the same age and stage of life as you. It might not be over coffee at a nearby café. It might not be in person. Maybe it’ll require FaceTime or Skype or email exchanges or something else. Maybe it’ll have to be a brief chat in a corner of your church after a service, at least as a start.

Reaching out is risky, but the risks don’t negate the rewards.

Vulnerability Leads to Victory

Vulnerably reaching out when I was desperate for help has led to incredible gifts of friendship. These friends are not perfect. They fail me (and I fail them). But I know they are there for me.

Friends have brought my family meals when I was too weak to cook. They’ve provided weeks’-worth of groceries when employment was scarce. They’ve given clothing to our kids, cut and styled my hair, given me thoughtful gifts to brighten a dark day, prayed for me, interceded for my family, called to speak God’s Word to me, reminded me of His truth, listened when I lamented, cried when I cried, hugged me when there were no words. I could go on.

No friend has done all of these things for me. But each friend has done at least one.

As I’ve opened up my heart to others, I’ve been privileged to see pieces of theirs. I’ve learned so much from them by sharing the tough stuff.

Friendship forged through the furnace of suffering or failure is valuable treasure worth the risks.

God designed us to need people. His Church is a big deal to Him and He desires each one of us to be in fellowship with other Christians. And if that’s His desire, He will provide what we need to make it happen (2 Peter 1:3 and Philippians 4:19). But we still have to take some scary steps. Those steps are worth it. I promise.

Live It Out

  • Who has had a positive impact on you with regard to your relationship with Christ? How?
  • Who is someone you respect and admire for their faith and walk with the Lord?
  • What is an area in your life where you feel you could really benefit from the input of someone older and wiser? Do you have an idea of who that could be? Pray about it. Ask the Lord to connect you with someone who can walk alongside you in this area.
  • Reach out to one person this week to ask for prayer or encouragement for something specific that you’re struggling with. If it’s really difficult for you, pray about it and ask the Lord for courage.
  • Read Hebrews 11. If one of those “heroes of the faith” stands out to you, find the rest of their story in the Bible and read that, too.

24 Responses

  1. As a runner, you can imagine that I have a special affinity for Hebrews 12:1! I see it on signs at races all the time. God’s church IS a big deal to Him! So glad you asked for and received help for your anxiety.

  2. Great post, Jana! So very thorough and honest. Thank you for sharing your trial with us and how it hasn’t been easy to reach out. It is comforting to know how you were rejected and disappointed yet you still kept reaching out to others until the right person offered the support you needed. So true and I appreciated the perseverance you show us by not giving in to bitterness over the way others disappointed you. Happy to share!

    1. Thanks for your encouragement, Gretchen! And thanks for sharing! Bitterness is crippling. I choose freedom instead. Life can still be painful sometimes, obviously, but God is true to His Word. When I put my faith in HIM instead of in others, I’m not disappointed!

  3. Dear Jana, that was a post that reminded me the importance of always being there for our friends in different ways. I am glad that you had Godly friends who showed you unconditional ❤️ love. Keep up with your great posts!

    1. Eileen, I’m so glad you stopped by to read and that you were encouraged. To God be the glory! He has done great things for us and we are glad. You have encouraged me tremendously! Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.

  4. Thank you for this post – it touched my heart. As a self-confessed introvert and someone who definitely is not super social at all, reaching out and finding fellowship has been proving challenging for me. I guess I need to learn to let down my walls a little more!

    x Anastasia |

    1. Oh, how I understand, Anastasia. I’m an introvert, too. Always has been. Reaching out is definitely a stretch for me and requires great effort and intentionality. But the rewards are worth it. I promise! Don’t give up!

  5. Jana, thanks for sharing your heart and being so transparent! There’s a whole chapter in my new book, The Heart That Heals, called “We Cannot Do This Alone” and it’s the truth!


    Thanks for linking up at InstaEncouragements!

  6. This really resonates, why does anxiety have to be so illogical!? It seems like letting others in wouldn’t help, but it does, God created us to be community!

  7. Jana – Thank you for your wisdom and vulnerability. I agree we were never meant to do life alone. Asking for help is hard but so rewarding for everyone even those doing the helping. I know I love to help others.

    Recently I was vulnerable in asking for help and it was a win for everyone. The people I reached out to not only helped but expressed how much they enjoyed it.



    1. Maree, great point! I’ve been there, too! I LOVE helping people. In fact, it’s so much easier and more rewarding to help others when they tell me EXACTLY what they need. Sometimes we know someone is suffering, but we’re clueless as to what would be the most effective way to come alongside them. Reaching out and asking for something specific benefits everyone.

  8. It’s so important to have people in all the seasons that we walk through. Sometimes I am tempted to push people away during certain times, but really it is the best thing we can do as we move closer to Jesus.

  9. I have a good friend who often says, this faith walk was never intended to be done alone. It’s so true, we need each other. I have been helped in many ways and have helped as well, there are many blessings in both the recieving and the giving. I never thought of Moses receiving help by hold his arm up that way, great example. Many Thanks 8)

    1. Isn’t it wonderful that God designed us to work that way? We’re blessed when we pour out and minister to others and we’re blessed when others pour out and minister to us. It’s a win-win!

  10. I appreciate your strong encouragement to forget the “going it alone” route. Going solo is too hard, and it’s not how we’re designed to make it through! Life is better (even though still difficult at times) when we have that great cloud of witnesses with us.

    1. Yes. We were never promised a life of ease, even when we’re walking in complete alignment with the will of God. Sometimes it’s just hard. But it’s so much harder when we resist living His way. His way results in freedom and blessing and joy in the midst of difficulty.

  11. Thanks for the post,very encouraging. You mentioned about Anxiety in the starting part of the post , how did you overcome that? Was there some medication involved or was it more through reading of word, prayer and fellowship. Would appreciate your inputs. Thanks

    1. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment, Rahul! I did not take medication specifically for anxiety. Overcoming it was a multi-faceted endeavor. By God’s grace and the empowering of His Spirit, the catalyst was probably my vulnerability in reaching out to friends for prayer and support. Supplementing that was a lot of meditating on Scripture, including memorization, praying through Scripture (Ephesians 6 was a key passage during that season of my life), and worship. It’s hard to worry when you worship! I will say it was also some lifestyle changes that significantly reduced stress in my life and more effectively supported my immune system and my body’s natural functionality and needs. That was just my own experience and I know it can look very different from one person to the next.

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