Most people hate to struggle. It seems to be human nature to want to have everything in place, everything running smoothly, with money in the bank and plenty of food in the cupboard. There’s nothing wrong with being wise, storing up, and having things in order – Proverbs 6:6-8 says “Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise; which, having no captain, overseer or ruler, providers her supplies in the summer and gathers her food in harvest.” So there is clearly wisdom in storing up during seasons of abundance as well as having order and a good plan to follow.
However, when Jesus taught His disciples to pray, He taught them to pray “give us this day our daily bread.” In other words, instead of worrying about tomorrow’s needs, we should focus on the needs and cares that will get us through today. So often we ruin today and miss out on its blessings by worrying about tomorrow. All we really need to have taken care of is today and according to Matthew 6:34, today has enough trouble of its own.
We can certainly limit the struggles that come as the result of consequences for choices we make, but there are other struggles that come despite our best efforts. Sometimes cars break down when it’s least convenient, sometimes we have to spend the savings we promised never to touch, and sometimes catastrophe strikes and we don’t get an answer to the question ‘why?’. Struggles come with living in a fallen world and, though it’s not the way God intended before the fall, God takes the struggles we experience in this life and works them together for the good of those who love Him and are the called according to His purpose (Rom 8:28).
Struggles cause us to remember God. Where there are no struggles, there is little dependence upon God and it shows up in our prayer life. For example, when I have a car that always starts, I just get in it and go. I rarely thank God for my car when it runs so well that I never have to think about it. However, if my car has recently given me some problems, I find myself praying more often as I get in to crank it. Instead of getting worried, angry, or falling apart, learn to see the struggles as an opportunity to remember God – to seek Him for wisdom and trust Him with the results; perhaps He has a purpose for the delay or the diversion. You see, the genuineness of your faith is realized in the struggles. Will you turn to Him? Will you trust Him? Speaking about our inheritance in the Kingdom of Heaven, Peter wrote “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, who having not seen, you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.” (1 Pet 1:6-9).
No one enjoys the struggles of life, but try to enjoy the presence of God in your struggles – it will make all the difference.
God bless, Pastor Troy