The Danger of Striving in the Deep

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Karen Ball and Erin Taylor Young The Danger of Striving in the Deep Write from the Deep Podcast
42 – The Danger of Striving in the Deep

Do you find yourself doing everything you can think of to “learn what I need to” and “get out!” of the deep? Then the odds are good that you’ve blown right by trust and dwelling with God and landed smack-dab in the middle of striving. But striving doesn’t help you when you’re in the deep. In fact, it works against you. Don’t believe us? Well, come join the discussion and find out why it’s dangerous to strive when you’re in the deep.

Show Notes

We’ve talked before about the most common reaction when we find ourselves in deep places, and that’s the drive to GET OUT! To escape the deep, to get back to where we’re doing well and feeling happy. But there’s another reaction that can be as counterproductive—and even dangerous—and that’s to strive while you’re in the deep.

What do we mean by that?

Webster’s defines striving as:

Making great efforts to achieve or obtain something


To struggle or fight vigorously

When you strive for something, it’s goes beyond just working hard or being determined to achieve it. It’s being focused, sometimes obsessively so on DOING. It’s trying so hard to do what’s right and best and most productive, to learn your lesson and get past whatever the struggle is, that you completely miss what this whole thing is about.


The Difference Between Striving and Enduring

Striving is about doing, about you figuring out what you need to do and jumping on it.

Enduring is about patience, dwelling with Christ, and trusting Him.

Following Christ, especially when you’re in the deep, is like being a foot soldier in the military. Wait to receive orders. Act only when the Commander says to act. Until then, rest. Train. Study. Focus on Him.

Rest in God

“So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.” Hebrews 4:9-11

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29


Study – Put our focus on God

2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…”

Joshua 1:8 “Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.”

  • Consider how many books, blogs, etc., you read on craft or on the business of writing. How many hours do you spend researching for your books? Do you spend an equal amount of time in God’s Word? If not, things are off-balance.

Psalm 119:15 “I will study your commandments and reflect on your ways.”

  • This goes beyond just reading the Word. We each need to dig deep, to study what God’s word is saying to us.

2 Timothy 2:7 Paul tells Timothy “Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.”

  • How often do we reflect? I mean literally just sit around and think about something we’ve just read?


Train Ourselves to Walk with God

“Praise be to the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle. He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me.” Psalm 144:1

  • God is doing the work, the subduing, and yet David still needs training. He has a part to play.

1 Timothy 4:7b “…train yourself to be godly.”

Hebrews 5:12-14 “You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to distinguish good from evil.”

  • There is a danger to not training.
  • Be teachable. Keep your mind and heart open to God’s leading. Don’t resist if He tells you that you need to change directions, or consider something new and different than you thought. He is in control. Train yourself to know and respond to His voice, His guidance. Even if He’s taking you someplace you’re not sure you want to go. Remember, He’s been there ahead of you. He’s prepared the way for working His will and purpose within and through you. You’ll be amazed where He takes you when your heart and spirit are submitted to him.


The Bottom Line

Understand that this whole thing is in God’s hands, not our hands. That silent time in study and prayer isn’t sitting still, doing nothing—it’s waging the battle! We need to seek Him for every step. We are often willing to do that in the darkness, when we can’t see a thing around us. But do we trust Him and seek Him like that in the light? If not, why not? It’s His vision for us. Bringing it about isn’t on our shoulders but on His. We need to trust Him for every step we take.

“Because you have kept my word of patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.” Revelation 3:10

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” James 1: 2-4

“He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’ The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” Psalm 46:10-11


We want to hear from you!

Have you found yourself striving in the deep?
What helps you focus on God?



Striving to escape the deep places in your life? Come find out why that’s a bad plan.


  1. Angie Arndt says:

    Have I felt myself striving in the deep? Oh sure. Everytime I think I say to myself, “This. Now this is the most I can stand,” then something else happens. It’s only when I remind myself that God is in control and I don’t have to be, that I feel that “peace that passes all understanding.”

    There’s an old saying that when things are beyond understanding, they are “beyond my ken.” That happens a lot! I just have to remember that nothing is beyond God’s ken.

    • Erin Taylor Young says:

      I hear you, Angie! I find myself needing to do the same–reminding myself that God is in control and I don’t have to be. In fact, just today! And yesterday…Probably tomorrow too.

      And amen to the phrase that nothing is beyond God’s ken!

  2. This has been exactly what I’m wrestling with. I’ve started querying agents and I’m constantly tying to figure out where the balance between doing what needs done and being proactive and letting God do His divine thing really is. It is very hard for me to define that line.

    • Karen Ball says:

      It can be hard to define. I think the key is taking time to be still and listen. Ask God if you’re to wait, or if there’s something else you should do. The more we do this, the more familiar we become with His urgings, and the more skilled we are at differentiating that from our own striving.

      Praying for you as you seek His guidance.

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