The Joy of the Struggle

Struggle is something that we tend to look down on in our society as a sign of weakness, but in reality it is usually a time of testing and personal growth. Only when you give up to the struggle and let the weight of the toils take us down does it finally become our moment of weakness. To struggle is to be human, and anyone who says that they don’t struggle is a liar. If we break down life into its most simple idea, it could be summed up in one word: struggle. With every struggle comes moments of victory and defeat. In life all we do is struggle. We struggle through school, relationships, trails, personal flaws and faults, through disappointment, parenthood, marriage, and even with our own personal beliefs. When someone is struggling with something, that usually means that they have conflicting views on the issue. Websters dictionary defines struggle as “to make strenuous or violent efforts in the face of difficulties or opposition”. If you’re struggling, that means you don’t agree with what you’re being confronted with. The fact that you are fighting means that your heart is desiring to not be taken under by the toils. You want to rise above it and beat it. Why is struggle such an important part of life? Because struggle and conflict is what makes our lives a good story, it’s what makes life advance itself. Because it is what we do in times of struggle that define who we are.
This sums up everything about the character of Samwise Gamgee.

How we handle struggle and trial defines us as people. Every single person has struggled. Even Jesus struggled in the garden the night before his crucifixion. But yet how we handle is it what people remember. If you want a historical example of this you can look at Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt as a younger man was a far different person than he what is remembered and immortalized for. Growing up as a sickly child, he suffered from severe asthma and was often made to sleep propped up so that he wouldn’t suffer any attacks in his sleep. He eventually rose above his ailments by taking up boxing and eventually going to Harvard, which within itself is a great accomplishment. But then his first wife and his mother both died on the same day and in the same house, and he disappeared away to his ranch in the Badlands of South Dakota because his grief was so great. He eventually came back to New York after rebuilding his life, ran for mayor, eventually became police commissioner, Assistant Secretary to the Navy, Governor of New York, Vice President, and eventually President. He used that trial by fire to mold himself into the man he was meant to become. The attitude we have about trials is what will control how we handle them. Whatever it is that you struggle with, whether it be doubt, stress, family issues, sin, temptation, lust, anger, depression, or simply frustration, you MUST remember that if you’re fighting against the bad in the struggle, then your heart is right. If you’re fighting against sin, then your heart desires purity. If you didn’t care then you’d definitely be in trouble. But how do we endure and rise above the struggles?

As Indiana Jones knows, it takes a leap of…

…Faith. We endure and rise above through faith. But faith in what? It could be one or many things, but the primary thing must be God. He created all things, which includes you, and everything is under his control. Maybe God is allowing the struggle to mold you into growth and trust in Him. You have to hang on to Him, listen to and read His Word, and trust in his love and his sacrifice for you. How do you do that? Well, it’s honestly different for everyone. For me personally, it takes me being honest with myself and my flaws, and letting go of my pride and begging for help and forgiveness, and then getting into the things of God. After that its all about endurance. But for you it may be different. You can also put some of your faith in people. The encouragement of a friend, family member or significant other is extremely important. If you have someone you trust and is strong enough to help you bear some burdens then let them try to encourage you. You cannot live without human connections. It’s like what John Donne said: “No man is an island entire of itself…”. One of the ways that God shows us his love and grace is through the people he brings into our lives. I’m not going to pretend that I’ve got it all figured out, I don’t. There are days where God isn’t on my mind, and that breaks my heart. But if you desire to have your mind on the things of God then you are definitely stepping in the right direction. If you take a step towards God then he will take 5 towards you. I’ve struggled with things, I still do, but I will not let that define who I am. Christ has to define who I am. And you have to let Christ define who you are.

Noah Webster did some defining too

Struggle doesn’t exist to torture us; it exists to strengthen us, teach us about ourselves, and focus our attention on the one who created us. Trials don’t last forever and all storms eventually pass. God is the god of millions of chances, of redemption. We hang on to faith and keep climbing that mountain because we know he’s waiting for us. The joy of the struggle is the knowledge that victory is just over the next rise. It may be hard to reach the summit of the mountain, but you can’t give up and let the struggle beat you. If you stop climbing and struggling, you die. If you keep pressing on and trying your hardest you will get to the top, because if you’re climbing and reaching for God at the top he will help pull you along. Once you get to the top the trails and struggles of life will be nothing but a shadow in the bright sunlight of victory. Keep climbing. Your mountaintop awaits.

1 Corinthians 10:13
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide a way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Romans 12:12
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Joshua 1:9
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s