As I continue to drift down the river of life I have succumbed to the fact that I must strive to be as healthy as possible. I am not 16 anymore and can’t do and eat what I please. I must begin to make the, less desirable choice, of foods low in saturated fats, sugars and high in fiber. Sugars being the hardest to deny in my diet. I must take the time to exercise, out of what few precious minutes of personal free time that exist in this world of crazy schedules. As a side note, if we could only realize these are the best choices to make even when we are 16! Old habits are hard to break. My wife just had a birthday. I prepared an romantic dinner with all of the necessary items guys, water view, candles, Italian cuisine, soft music, our special song ( Perfect by Ed Sheeran) for a slow dance and you guessed it, dessert. Actually two, a piece of Resees’ pie and a piece of Key Lime cheesecake. We come home the following day to a gift from a sister consisting of a piece of Strawberry cheesecake and a day later another gift from the other sister of a whole Strawberry pie. Surely this will fit into the category of moderation I tell myself. Cutting out sugar is a very difficult thing for me to do and when confronted with this many delicacies, is almost impossible to do! So I don’t know if this resonates with any of you, but for me, The Struggle is REAL!
I wish my struggle with diet and exercise were the only struggles I dealt with on a regular basis but they are not. As a Christian, I struggle with making the proper moral choices, with sin and even with my faith. How about you? Why is it, we as Christians feel as though we have to hide our struggles? Maybe some Believers are perfect and more mature in their walk than most of us, I sometimes think. Then I remember, is it not in our struggles and weekeness’ that God shows His Love, Peace, Strength, Power and Presence? Doing, Providing and Showing Up as only He can do! I mean throughout Scripture, God chooses the week and broken people in life to demonstrate His power. And these individuals do not remain perfect throughout their lives but continue to trip, stumble and fall short at times. It just makes me wonder sometime when you meet a church member on the street with issues weighing your life down and its a greeting of, ‘God is Good, All the Time!’ with a response of ‘All the Time, God is Good!’ Now I’m certain the blissfully expressed statement is true, but it just does not feel like it ‘All of the Time’! It seems as if we don’t want our fellow Believers to know we have struggles and want them to see the polished and perfected side of our faith. So it makes me wonder, why can’t we be honest with our fellow Christians? I mean after all, Christians do have struggles and saved people do have problems don’t they? Sure they do! As a matter of fact I have found, when a life is surrendered to Christ, the Struggle does not disappear, the Struggle sometimes intensifies. Some of the characteristics to let us know we are drowning in the Struggle are Worry, Doubt, Stress, Anxiety, Confusion and Spiritual Weakness to name a few. Doesn’t sound much like the list of the Fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5 does it? So why is it when we accept Jesus as Savior, are baptized and receive the Holy Spirit, we do not become immune to the emotions we experienced before our conversion?
The reasons are numerous so let’s go over a few of them.The reasons are many but I would like to only look at a few:
One reason is because God’s Word assures us there will be difficult days ahead. “In this world you will have trouble.” John 16:33, and “our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18 are just a couple of verses that allow us to see that we are in a battle! Many people are disillusioned as they begin to follow Jesus because they are under the impression that everything will be picture perfect and rosey in this new life. But the truth is, just because you are forgiven of your sin does not mean the consequences of all those years of bad behavior and decisions will magically disappear. It took me forty years to get into the mess I am in and I am certain some of the effects will last until the day I enter eternity. So if you are considering making the decision to follow Jesus, I can tell you with certainty it is the best decision you will ever make in your life. But do not expect your life to resemble the poster child for the American Dream, there will be many difficult days.
Another reason is, Satan has no reason to chase after you when you are not living your life for Christ. Especially when you think you are a good person, serving humanity, taking care of the environment doing all the right things but God is the furthest thing from your mind. But when he sees you have made a commitment to Christ, it is Game On! He did Jesus the same way. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he was ushered into the desert and tempted. And you are no match for Satan my friend. Even the Archangel Michael did not rebuke him but called on God. Jude 1:9 I don’t know what your beliefs are when it comes to ghosts, spirits, demons and angels, but I assure you, whichever side of the isle you stand on, you will see evidence for their existance. Satan, the devil, evil, Lucifer, Prince of Darkness or whatever you would like to call it, he is the Top Dog of destructive forces and is not some thing you want to have following you anywhere at anytime. “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8
We are not just simply in a Struggle, we are in a Fight, a Battle and a War! This is the ultimate Struggle and our soul and eternity is at stake. And that my friend, is as high as the stakes get. God knows you and I have these struggles. He knows your feelings and He knows your thoughts. It is ok to be honest with God, to cry out to Him when you are hurt, sad and angry. Trust me when I tell you, He can handle the worst of your emotions. And one thing I have found to be true in Scripture, as well as in my life, God will wait past the point you are at the end of your rope, to the point you have let go of the rope, before he shows up in the deepest part of your Struggle. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12 If you think the devil is a cute little man in a flashy red suit running around with horns, a forked tail and a pitch fork, think again. He is the very presence of evil and wants to kill, steal and destroy your present as well as your future.
Thank goodness there is a flip side to the struggle. I don’t mean to minimize your Struggle in anyway because I have my own Struggles and I know how Real they are. But it is in my struggles that God has proven Himself to be true. My son has said to me before ” Dad, you think that Jesus is the answer to everything!”, and it has proven to be so true in my life during times I had nothing or no one else to rely on. It is in these times we must engage the battle from the inside out. The Real Battle that is on our turf, in our life, in our heart and in our mind. But there is a way to confront and be triumphant in our Struggle. There is a way to overcome the barriers we encounter in our lives and for me, it is not a one time fit all miracle, but a lifelong, every day, every moment decision to Trust that God is True to His promises. One of the verses we started with was John 16:33 declaring in this world we would have troubles but what I left out was, that part of the verse was sandwiched in between telling us we can have (1) peace and (2) to take heart (meaning to become confident or courageous during a difficult situation). ‘ “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”’ Here are a few of the Truths that help me.
The Battle is The Lords The Battle that goes on within me is beyond my ability to control. If God has allowed it there is a purpose behind it. For me, the battle shows up when it is dark, early in the morning, I am alone and I am certain, it is Spiritual Warfare. A Battle being waged for my very soul. I do not know if you can resonate with this but it can show up at anytime in many different ways such as loneliness, self harm, suicide, worry, doubt, fear, substance abuse and the list goes on and on. But my initial go to is prayer, realizing that I have access to the One who can contend for me when I am too weak to do so. ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.’ 2 Chronicles 20:15
God’s Word Your beliefs and perspective about the Bible will determine your ability to use His Word to encourage you, not only in your struggle, but in your entire life experience. It is also conditional in relation to your relationship with the creator of the universe. If you have not put your faith in Jesus as being the Son of the Living God, living a perfect life, dying a death as the scarifice for you sins and raising to life in 3 days, you may not accept the promises the Bible holds for you as true. The Bible is not a book of magical promises and God is not a genie in a bottle you can conjure up to do your bidding at your beckon call. But if you are a Follower of Christ, His Word will give you comfort, healing, direction, instruction and so much more. For instance, you can trust He will never leave you or forsake you. ‘The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” ‘ Deuteronomy 31:8 For more on God’s Word, check out Psalm 119
Speak God’s Promises Many times in our struggle, we are overwhelmed because Satan is speaking lies, his native tounge by the way, to counteract the promises of God that are available for us. He did the same to Eve and Jesus in their respective gardens. He even used the Word of God with Jesus, only taking it out of context, and if he did it with Jesus, he will certainly do it with you and me. Everyones Struggle is different but there is a promise in God’s Word written for you in Scripture.
- God will fight for you – Exodus 14:14
- God will give you strength – Isaiah 40:29
- Do not Fear – Isaiah 41:10
- Wisdom – James 1:5
- God will forgive you – 1 John 1:9
- You can have Eternal Life – John 3:16
- God will Free you – John 8:36
- You can Live – John 14:19
And the list goes on and on. I am not sure if you can relate to seeking direction from God for the Struggles in your life, but He is the only One who can give you what you are truely looking for. Peace. If I can be of any help for you or pray for you in your struggle, please shoot me an email. I would love to stand with you.
‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.Jesus