Life is a struggle. Many Christians don’t have room for that reality in their theology and it hurts them. It has hurt me, but I’ve learned a lot about the struggle.
Yesterday, we got hit with a snowstorm here in Michigan. Heavy snow means that I have to go do battle with my nemesis, a long, curved, steeply inclined driveway of snow and ice. My weapon is an orange and black Husqvarna snow blower. It is always a struggle and yesterday was no exception.
After throwing on all of my heavy duty winter clothing, I headed out for battle. I connected the power cord for the electric start. The starter was broken. I moved on to the manual pull start. Soon, my shoulders were crying for oxygen as pull after pull yielded nothing. I decided the engine was too cold, so I hauled the snow blower into the basement and parked it in front of the wood burner to thaw out. After shoveling the sidewalk, I pushed the snow blower back outside. It starts! Unfortunately, I quickly learned that it won’t throw snow. A shear pin was broken. I replaced it and off I went. After working up a sweat, the snow blower ran out of gas. The can was empty too. Off to the gas station, I go. A short time later, the tank is full, but another shear pin breaks… Guess what? It’s just a struggle.
It’s the type of everyday struggle that used to push me toward frustration, anger and despair. I would just get sick of the fact that life is hard and that every little part of it had to be a struggle. I learned to do something that has made all the difference.
Embrace the struggle.
Christians love to talk about the promises of God and celebrate them. But, there are many promises in the Bible that no one seems to want to claim. Promises like this one from John 16:33:
“In this world you will have trouble.”
No one celebrates that one. In fact, we tend to ignore it, run into trouble and wonder why God would allow such a thing to happen to us.
We often have a very myopic view when we read the Scriptures. We see all the grand promises, but somehow think that we will avoid all the pain. It doesn’t work like that. Trusting Jesus does not insulate you from trouble. We live in a broken world. We live in a world full of sinners which includes us. We live in a world with an enemy that is actively seeking to destroy our lives. We live in a world that is not what it was meant to be nor what it will be one day. Today, there will be trouble. It may be life and death. It may be with a snow blower, but there will be struggle.
Accepting the reality of the struggle isn’t pessimism or defeatism. The rest of John 16:33 calls us to peace in the midst of the struggle because Jesus has overcome the world. Our future victory has already been won, but for now…we must fight… press on…embrace the struggle.
In school, I never wrestled, but I marveled at the incredible work ethic of wrestlers. They worked on cardio and strength and technique with amazing discipline. And, they always did so with about five layers of clothes on in order to sweat and make weight. Their routine was brutal. Wrestlers have a mantra: Embrace the grind.
If you were going to make it as a wrestler, you couldn’t get caught up in how hard it was or how desperately you wanted a cheeseburger. You had to get to a mental place in which you embraced the grind. You had to welcome the struggle. You had to see the pain as a necessary part of your world.
I like it when life goes smoothly. I prefer pain free living. I ask God to make my paths straight, but this isn’t heaven yet. Struggle is a part of this world and this life. When I understand that truth, I am not surprised by it. I am not discouraged by it. I am not driven to doubt God by it.
I embrace the grind. I fight the fight. I seek God. I look for a solution. I work. I grit my teeth. I embrace the struggle and know that God will have made me better on the other end.
Next time a struggle rises up, don’t lament it. Recognize it as a battle to fight and engage.
Embrace the struggle.
You can find some more help as you embrace and engage the struggles of this life in a very important post here.
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