“The Struggle is Real”
This statement has gained popularity lately, and is usually reserved for “First World Problems” or when something trivial happens that we need to make light of.
I admit, I’ve said it before and got a few laughs.
But what about when the struggle IS real? What are we to make of life when we cannot make light of it?
Life is tough. This reality is inescapable. There will be seasons when the struggle is real.
I have been through a few seasons like that. In fact, I am just coming out of a season like that. For a few months, I was just in a funk. I felt like the Lord was distant and there was nothing I could do about it.
Of course I knew this wasn’t the case, but I certainly didn’t feel it.
All of the Christian clichés in the world couldn’t help me feel better about my situation.
I was struggling. I was suffering.
Suffering is part of the Christian experience. Suffering teaches us lessons that may be learned through no other medium.
As C.S. Lewis says – “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
In these moments of pain, suffering, and confusion we are driven to a greater reliance on the Lord. Our faith in the Lord is tested, and forced to grow.
We are forced to lean into the Lord and trust that He will catch us in this time. Allow me to share an analogy that helps me visualize this.
I went skydiving last September with a handful of friends from my hometown. I was apprehensive at first, but the challenge was just too much for me to turn down. We all speculated on the drive down that our moment of greatest fear would be as we approached the door for our jump. As the plane begin its ascent, reality began to set in. I turned to my buddy Daniel and said “Well, at this point the fastest way down is going to be by jumping.” He agreed, and we both concluded that since we were strapped in, we pretty much had no choice at this point.
We had to jump.
Just think, here I was, attached to a stranger jumping from 15,000 feet into the blue Florida sky. I was relying on this stranger, and our parachute.
Needless to say, I survived.
I have discovered that our walk with the Lord is a lot like this, especially in the realm of suffering.
The Lord often invites us to greater reliance on Him but sometimes He pushes us to the edge so that our only choice is to jump and discover our complete reliance on Him. The latter of these two options is certainly more difficult. It is nice to have the choice to acknowledge my reliance on the Lord as opposed to skydiving into His peace. Either way, the fact is that the Lord is really all I have.
I say all of that to make this point: when the struggle is real, it helps to consider that the Lord is likely using that to make you look more like Him.
That is the goal after all: to look more and more like Jesus.
Recognizing this purpose has not made my struggles any easier, but it has helped me to understand and even be grateful for the experience. I wouldn’t trade them for anything.
It is my prayer that if you are in the midst of a trial, that you would jump. Embrace it as an opportunity for growth that could not be achieved any other way. Cling to the Lord and recognize that He is ALWAYS all that you have
My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.