I struggle. A lot.
I struggle with self-doubt. I struggle with self-esteem. I struggle with consistency. I struggle with relationships. I struggle with Faith. I struggle with living out my Faith. Being kind, hospitable, compassionate, empathetic, charitable, steadfast. I struggle with being a good wife, mother, sister, friend. Christian.
I guess you get the picture here… I struggle!
I had a recent reunion with friends, a yearly event that encourages my inner soul. It gave me a much needed perspective booster that helped me relax a bit about my current struggles. (Last year, I didn’t get to go because I was in the middle of a health struggle… Yes, there are even those kinds of struggles to deal with at times!) So, what did I discover in this reunion with friends?
THEY struggle too!
These are some people I look up to in the Faith! Some of them are mentors to me, and others are life-long peers who have been with me from the beginning of my Faith Walk. We started the journey together in my first church when we were all mostly new or young believers. (I was 12!) That church meant so much to me, helping to lay my firm foundation in Christ as they taught, encouraged & discipled me, and grew with me, at the beginning of my walk with my Savior.
They were instrumental to my hearing the Gospel in the first place, and for that I am eternally Thankful! (You can read my Salvation Testimony here.)
In this special time with some of my dearest lifelong friends, I found renewal and authenticity. My struggles were their struggles too. In different ways and in different measure, and through different circumstances, but the truth is, we all struggle through this Christian life. Trying to find our way with Christ. The way that is the individual path God has us each of us on, and yet, so much of the path runs parallel to, or right alongside others who are going through the same or similar struggles as us.
You see, maybe this is a leftover from my childhood, which wasn’t smooth and easy, but I tend to ALWAYS think others are doing it right, doing it better, doing it without struggle, more-so than me.
Now, I’m not saying that I don’t trust God and what He is doing in my life, or what He has taught me in life, or who He is in my life. What I am saying is that I regularly battle a thought or feeling that I’m not quite there. And maybe sometimes I’m not. But maybe most of the time, I am right where God wants me to be. Learning and growing and becoming who He intends ME to be. Gaining the victory in Jesus!
Sadly, I spend far too much time worrying about what I am not, than being thankful for what I am not anymore!
Maybe that is the key to center on… That we are not where we are going to be, but we are on the path. And Praise God, we are not who we used to be, if we are believers and partakers of His Grace. That alone is a truth worth dwelling on!
That is one of my favorite Doctrinal Truths. It means that from the moment we receive Christ as our Savior, He begins changing us into the new creations He has planned for us to be. (2 Corinthians 5:17) Some of that change is instant. From enemies of God to friends of God. That is salvation. But the rest of the sanctification process is ongoing. This work won’t be completed until we reach Heaven’s shores, but it is a constant work in our lives; a work of the Holy Spirit who lives inside us from the moment we give our hearts to Jesus.
So, maybe I really do struggle. But I struggle less than I used to. One of the other things I notice, is that I am quicker to acknowledge my own struggles. And, quicker to ask God to help me conquer them! That too is part of the sanctification process.
I find it very intriguing that the Apostle Paul called himself the “chiefest of sinners” towards the end of his life.
In I Timothy 1:15 Paul writes, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” 1st and 2nd Timothy are believed to be the last epistles that Paul wrote.
If you follow the progression, every letter that Paul wrote, when he was clearly growing closer and closer to the Lord as he walked deeper and deeper with God, growing in sanctification, and yet… the further you get in his life’s journey with Jesus, the more you see Paul broken over his own personal sinfulness. Paul was obviously sinning less… but he was broken and burdened by it more!
That is the evidence of the process of Sanctification in our lives. Sin becomes more and more disdained, while grace and love and mercy become more and more desired and sought after.
Here is a verse I cling to when I am going through my struggles.
Philippians 1:6 “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you (sanctification!) will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
That is the truth of sanctification in a nutshell. God is making us more and more like Christ every day. Every moment. Whether we “see” it or not. It is a promise. And God always keeps His promises!
Some things we can do that may make the process go faster…
YIELD. Allow Him to do the work. Trust Him. Even when you don’t have full understanding of the process… (when you struggle!) yield control to Him. You know… it is in the deepest struggles, that the greatest spurts of growth are usually seen.
A tree or shrub experiences the greatest healthy growth after a good pruning. It is the very reason why gardeners prune! To bring out the healthy best in the plant. God is the Master Pruner! Let Him do His work in you, even though it may hurt a bit temporarily, or cause you to struggle for a season; the outcome will be healthier and better for you and all who encounter you.
Another (Biblical!) plant analogy is to let our roots grow deep in the truth of Scripture, the truth of The Word of God. That helps us become more and more like Jesus, The Word of God Himself. And a plant with deep roots doesn’t get shaken or uprooted (or struggle!) with every wind that blows. (Psalm 1) He/she draws strength by having their roots firmly & deeply planted in Christ.
Pursue this relationship with your Savior and Friend with all your heart! That is also a key factor to speeding up the process of sanctification. What we earnestly Love, we earnestly are motivated by, and are earnestly changed by.
This relationship with Jesus changes us! From the inside out. We become reflections of Him the more time we spend with Him. View it as a friendship. A relationship. Because that is truly what this walk with Christ is. He pursued us when He died and rose again, and when He finds you and draws you to Himself in Salvation. Now, spend the rest of your life pursuing Him back! The greatest Love story ever told is between Jesus and You! Why wouldn’t you run after it, pursue it, chase it with all you’ve got in you?!
This world gives us struggles. Our adversary, the devil, wants us to struggle. We give ourselves struggles. But Jesus gives us peace. He tells us to cast our cares upon Him. Give Him our burdens, because His yolk is easy, His burden is light. He pursued us to the cross and back. He wants to be best friends with us. He wants a deep and eternal relationship with us.
Why would we struggle over that?
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