Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Struggling Through Life

It is no secret that life is hard. Even when we are following Jesus and doing God’s will life doesn’t get any easier. There is a part of us, even though it has never been promised, that expects things to be easy if we are doing what is right. We want to be validated and reassured that we are doing the right thing.

Though it would seem to me that if we are truly doing God’s will then things would be difficult. Why? Because the enemy is opposed to God. If we are making progress in overcoming sin in our lives, if we are in a relationship God wants us to be a part of, if we are part of a ministry making a difference in the community, or if we are standing up for what is right we shouldn’t be surprised if things are not easy. In fact, I might even suggest that if things are easy it might be time to evaluate what we are doing.

True we can’t evaluate things solely on the basis of whether things are going well or not. Sometimes things will go well even though it is God’s will and sometimes things will be a struggle even though it goes against God’s law. All I want to do is point out that struggling isn’t a bad thing. When God’s will is a struggle this gives us an opportunity to grow and will help us appreciate what God has for us on the other side of the struggle.

In the midst of the struggle we need to remember what Jesus said to the church in Smyrna:
9 "‘I know your suffering, your poverty—though you are rich—and the slander on the part of those who claim to be Jews but aren't. They are the synagogue of Satan. 10 Don't be afraid of what you are going to suffer. Look! The devil is going to throw some of you into prison so that you may be tested. For ten days you will undergo suffering. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the victor's crown of life.

11 ‘Let the person who has an ear listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will never be hurt by the second death.’" (Revelation 2:9-11; ISV)

Jesus tells this group of Christ Followers not to give up in the face of persecution. “Hang in there,” He says, “this won’t last forever.” Our struggle may not be persecution, but it maybe that circumstances haven’t turned out the way we expected. Reality isn’t anything like our dreams and we wonder if we are in the right place. Should we have faith or should we give up?

I don’t think there are any hard and fast rules for such situations, but let me offer you a few thoughts. First, is your struggle tied to right and faithful living? If it is then we are doing what God wants us to do. When our desire is to honor God, encourage people, help others, and grow in our knowledge and faith then there are a lot of places we can go and things we can do and remain in God’s will. These are certainly things that Satan would oppose, so if you are being faithful and loving God and people and things are a struggle stay faithful. You can be confident that you are in the right place.

Second, let go of your dreams. I think God allows us to struggle sometimes because our dreams need to be changed. We are missing out on the life God wants us to live because we are clinging too tightly to the dreams we have for our lives. Even good dreams need to be let go in order to experience God’s best. This is an act of faith because we have come to believe that only in these dreams will we discover happiness, so we are relying totally on God to bring joy into our lives.

A last thought I would offer is to get the opinion of different Christians. These could be people you are close with or not, but they need to be people you respect and who live faithful lives. While we need to evaluate what they say, more than likely they will help us see things from a new perspective. Too often we get so close to the situation that we fail to see the entire picture. The perspective of other Christians can help us see things more clearly.

Life is tough. Just because life is tough doesn’t mean that we are not doing God’s will. Often the struggle is an indication that we are doing what God wants us to do and we are being opposed by the Enemy. We need to stay faithful and in the end we will experience the life God created us to live.

  • Point to Ponder: Struggling isn’t a bad thing.
  • Passage to Remember: Revelation 2:9-11
  • Question to Consider: Are you ready to give up on your struggle? Why?

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