Finding Strength in the Struggle

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Problems, difficulties, trials, hardships – many different names, all shapes and sizes. Struggles – the one common thread… we all have them. Young or old. White, red, yellow, or brown. Male or female. Rich or poor. Believer or not. No one is immune.

Struggles come in many forms. From the minor inconveniences to life-altering circumstances. Loss, death, illness, pain. Financial or relationship problems. Addiction, disappointments. Anything from the flu, to a flat tire, to being fired. From disease to depressions, to divorce. Struggles change with the seasons of life. They may be short-lived or last for years. The one guarantee we will all experience them throughout our lives.

Some believe, and it’s even preached from some pulpits, the Christian life should (is supposed to) be without struggle {also known as prosperity gospel or name it, claim it teaching}. However, Jesus Himself warns us in John 16:33 that in this world we will have troubles, trials, and sorrow. But He also tells us, in this same verse, He has come to give us peace and has overcome the world.  

Expect the Struggle

We should expect and be prepared for struggles and difficulties. No one, believer or not, is promised a life free of suffering. Problems are unavoidable. 

If Jesus, the perfect, sinless, son of God, had to suffer, while here in this fallen world, why would we think we are entitled to escape it?  That we should have a life free from trials? Exempt from struggles?

The enemy had dominion over the earth then, and the same is true now. BUT GOD was and is victorious. And as a believer, we have a source of comfort and strength (Psalm 46:1) that is not available to the unbeliever.

Our struggles and suffering are no surprise to God. We are repeatedly cautioned in His Word of the trials we will endure. For instance:

Now the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will personally restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little. 1 Peter 5:10 (HSBC).

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair.  We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (NLT).

Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 2:3 (NLT).

We are also told why we must suffer hardships and difficulties, along with how we are to respond to them. 

God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12 (NLT)

For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. 2 Corinthians 4:17 (HSBC).

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4 (NIV84)

Source and Purpose for the Struggle

Our struggles mostly emanate from one of four sources – our own choices, the choices of others, schemes of the enemy, or simply because we live in a fallen world. The good news is, no matter the source, the size or the type of struggle, they all have a purpose.

If life were perfect, would we need God? Would we need a source of refuge and strength?

Suppose life was all roses and rainbows – without difficulties, without struggle – would we 

trust, or even know, God’s character?  How would we learn about God’s faithfulness, His provision, His healing? Would we develop perseverance? 

You see God has a plan for it all. EVERYTHING in our lives is God filtered. He sees every tear, every problem, every situation (Psalm 23:4). God does not orchestrate the trials and difficulties, but He does allow them in order for His purpose to be achieved. Nothing is wasted. No hardship in vain.

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The enemy will taunt us with the lies that we are forgotten or unloved. He will lie and scheme to stir up problems. He will use the traps of this fallen world to his advantage to foster difficulties. Then he will attempt to prey on us during the struggle to cause us to doubt God and His goodness. The enemy’s entire plan and purpose is to lie, steal, kill and destroy. To take our focus off God, make us question God and to limit our Kingdom impact.

So, what can we do?

Define or Refine

Difficulties in this life are inescapable. It is not a matter of it but when – the struggles will come. When they come, we have two options. The struggles can either define or refine us. The choice is ours.

I have chosen both options at different times in my life. Let my problems define me, pollute my relationships, and steal my joy. Allowed them to contaminate my faith – how I viewed God and His love for me, how I thought God saw me. I listened to the lies of the enemy, the desires of my flesh, and the cries of the world.

When we allow our struggles to define us we spend our time asking, “Why me?” or “When will it end?’ or try to figure out who’s to blame or what we could have done differently. We wallow in victim mentality or search for the easy out. We give our struggles way more power than they deserved. All the while denying or ignoring the Power of God living inside us (Romans 8:11).

Letting our problems define us seems easier at the time. But it leaves us in a deep hole with nothing to hold on to and nothing to show for it, other than more pain and despair.

Our other option allow God to refine us through the trials (1 Peter 4:12-13).  We can “embrace the suck”. View our struggles as opportunities. Opportunities to grow, to learn from our mistakes, and maybe even help others. To increase our faith, put on the armor of God and stand firm against the attacks of the enemy (Ephesians 6:10-11) . To rely on God and His strength when the pressures and pains of life are crashing in

Embrace the Suck

Embrace the what… Embrace the suck is a military term defined as knowingly accepting or even appreciating something that is extremely unpleasant but unavoidable. (As you can imagine soldiers have to do this frequently.) We can view “the suck”, the struggle, as a chance to develop

or increase perseverance. To persevere is to endure under pressure, to stand firm under stress. When struggling, we can choose to lean into God and believe there is greater purpose hidden in the trial.

We can keep our eyes, mind and heart fixed on God. Fixed on Jesus. And then see past the struggle, look at the bigger picture. Not just when trial is over but in the midst of the storm. We can take comfort in knowing God is right there with us. He has not and will never leave us (Deuteronomy 31:6). Trust that our God is good. Know He will give us strength for the struggles. Rest assured He will use every single difficulty in our lives for His purpose if we will allow it. When we allow God to work out His purpose through our struggle, we may discover a message waiting in our muck. But first we must embrace the suck.

Embrace the Suck

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We must believe God is who He says He is, and His Word is true.
When we submit to God’s plan –
Hardships will foster hope.
Pain has purpose.
Pressures cultivate perseverance.
Battles usher in breakthroughs.
Difficulties serve to make disciples.
Trials contribute to our testimony.

Help in the Struggles

Trusting God and His plan for our lives, along with embracing the opportunities our struggles provide, help us to see hardships in a different light.  Pray and ask the Lord for strength and the Holy Spirit for peace and comfort. God is available and waiting for us, both in His Word and through prayer. We only need to seek and ask.  Print and use these scriptures to help you in finding strength in the struggles, to find refuge when the trials come. 

I would be honored to pray for you if you are currently dealing with trials, pain, or struggles, or any other prayer needs you may have. Please comment below or email me at angela@authenticallyaltered.com

If you have any questions about trusting God with your life, your struggles, and your future or accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior, please email me at angela@authenticallyaltered.com.

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