Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Life is a Struggle

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, which expects things to be easy if we are living by faith. We want to be validated and reassured that we are doing the right thing.

Though I think that it would make sense that if we are truly doing God’s will then things would be difficult. Why do I think that? I think things would be difficult because the enemy is opposed to God. If we are making progress in overcoming sin in our lives, if we participating in the relationships 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 then 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 become a struggle gives us an opportunity to grow and will help us appreciate what God has done for us on the other side of that struggle.

In the midst of the struggle we need to remember what Jesus said to the church in Smyrna:
“I know about your suffering and your poverty—but you are rich! I know the blasphemy of those opposing you. They say they are Jews, but they are not, because their synagogue belongs to Satan. Don’t be afraid of what you are about to suffer. The devil will throw some of you into prison to test you. You will suffer for ten days. But if you remain faithful even when facing death, I will give you the crown of life.

"Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. Whoever is victorious will not be harmed by the second death."
(Revelation 2:9-11; NLT)

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, it could be as simple as circumstances not turning out the way we expected. Often reality isn’t anything like our dreams and when that is the case we wonder if we are in the right place. We ask ourselves, "Should I have faith continue on or should I just 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 yet remain in God’s will. These are certainly things that Satan would oppose, so if you are being faithful and loving God and loving people and things are a struggle, I would encourage you to stay faithful, because most likely 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 put aside in order to experience God’s best for our lives. Laying aside our dreams is an act of faith because we have come to believe that only in those dreams will we discover happiness. When we lay them down we are show our total reliance on God to bring joy into our lives.

A last thought I would offer is to get the opinions of different Christian people. These could be people you are close to or just acquainted with, 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 knew 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 that 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.

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