SGC Women: The Struggle is Real
The struggle is real.... I hear this phrase quite a bit from my daughter who tells me it's a common saying among the "younger generation." I've heard it used as a comic narrative regarding things that don't really matter such as, "I can't decide what to wear...the struggle is real," but I have also heard it describe true struggles like, "I don't know what to do with my life...the struggle is real."
As I sit here writing this blog post I'm thinking about life's struggles. There are a lot of them aren't there?
- Perhaps you are in the thick of parenting young children. The struggle is real.
- Maybe you have older kids and the schedules have you in a constant flurry of activity. The struggle is real.
- Maybe you are tired of being single. The struggle is real.
- Maybe you are trying to get a grip on your finances. The struggle is real.
- Possibly you have a relationship in your life that is strained. The struggle is real.
- Loneliness, loss, discouragement, weariness...the struggle is real!
For me, a current struggle is desiring to take control of my life to make it look the way I think it should. This goal has been eluding me for most of my life. Currently, it comes from being in transition from the move to Bellbrook coupled with a general busyness. A lot of travel has been (and continues to be) necessary due to prior commitments we've had, or planning for big life events like our daughter's wedding, the sale of our house in Minnesota, and our 25th wedding anniversary. There has also been a welcomed but fairly steady stream of visitors to our house. Each of these things, of course, are wonderful but they can make it feel more difficult to fully engage in relationships in my new setting - something I long to do.
It does occur to me that this is nothing new or unique; there will always be a myriad of things vying for my attention; yet I'm called to trust God and walk in faith in the midst of it all. The same is surely true for you as well. The problem is...I forget to trust and walk in faith, so my heart begins to drift. My devotions become dull (or even sporadic). What was once a joy and privilege becomes a duty. And then my joy begins to slip. Does this sound familiar to you at all?
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to give a devotional at a bridal shower for my daughter. I talked about how the most important thing we can do for our marriage is to make our hearts joyful in the gospel each day. I know the kind of difference that "learning to apply the gospel to all areas of my life" has made and I believe that advice with all my heart. So I ask myself, "why am I so quick to abandon this practice at the first sign of struggle?" Well, because there is a struggle behind our life struggles. The struggle to remember the gospel, to let it be the basis of our joy, to find our hope in it, to let it quell our fears and garner our trust for whatever the Lord brings our way. I would like to suggest that it is that very struggle that is our fiercest; the struggle to really live in the truth about who Jesus is and what he has accomplished for us. Instead, we tend to want answers to our problems that simply change our circumstances rather than our hearts and minds. We look for any number of temporary joys that this world has to offer to relieve the struggle only to find it accentuated. And, if we're honest, sometimes the gospel can even seem like some sort of intangible, spiritual thing we're supposed to cling to but instead find elusive.
These struggles may be real but they are certainly not new. They have existed since the fall in the garden of Eden. In his book Respectable Sins, author Jerry Bridges reminds us why we deserve the wrath of God. Romans 1:18 says,
"...the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth."
Mr. Bridges explains that ungodliness is not doing ungodly things; that is unrighteousness. Rather, ungodliness is our lack of Godward living, going about our days largely not thinking of God. That's my struggle! That's our struggle, isn't it?! We can have the best time in devotions and then move on to ignore God for most of what's left of the day. And our struggles become bigger.
I think this is why we are exhorted throughout the New Testament to remember; remember the gospel; remind each other of the gospel; remember the hopelessness life truly holds without the gospel. Our forgetfulness deserves wrath, but praise God we will never experience it because our forgetfulness is paid for at the cross!
I truly want to grasp the joy of the gospel; a joy that supercedes any circumstance I find myself in. I have experienced that joy many times, but I don't always...and I won't always.... Yet God has kindly placed us in His body for this very purpose, that we might struggle together as Paul did:
For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:1-3).
Yes, the struggle is real. But, we're not alone in it. We have one another and the Holy Spirit; both whom, by God's grace, serve to fulfill the purpose of the struggle... that we be directed away from ourselves and pointed to Christ.
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