Finding Strength in our Struggles

1 Peter 4: 12-13 reads “Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you.  Instead, be very glad – for these trials make you partners with Christ in His suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing His glory when it is revealed to the whole world.”

When things don’t go our way or we face some kind of adversity, we often get all bent out of shape rather than persevering.

When circumstances change and opposition comes, don’t be a complainer or a cry-baby.  Don’t have a pity party.  Instead, start thinking and believing in God’s favor and His blessings.  Have an attitude of faith and victory.  Say, “I just lost my job, but I can’t wait to see what God has in store for me next!”

God has a divine purpose for every challenge that comes into our lives.  If we are to grow stronger spiritually, then temptations, trials, and struggles MUST COME.  To help us grow, we need to have adversities to overcome and attacks to resist.

Often these difficulties expose things we need to deal with:

  1. Wrong attitudes
  2. Wrong motives
  3. Areas where we are compromising/sinning
  4. And others.

Often we try to avoid trials; however, trials can be quite beneficial.

James 1: 2-4 reads, “When troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.  For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”

These trials may not be enjoyable, but we must keep in mind that God is refining us, cleansing us, and purifying us.  After being refined, cleansed, and purified, we are in much better shape to successfully live out our lives.  Also, our lives will be pleasing to our Heavenly Father.

God will use the people in our lives to reveal those areas where we need to change. For example, maybe God has deliberately arranged for us to be in close proximity to a person who irritates us.  Have any of you ever had that happen to you?  God may be trying to teach us how to love our enemies.  Or God may be trying to teach us to trust Him.  Or maybe God is teaching us how to rule over our emotions.  Or maybe He is trying to develop some backbone and stability in our lives.

Or perhaps God has allowed an ungodly person to come into your life so you can learn some hard, painful lessons that will allow necessary growth and change.  Otherwise, we may very well not be in position to be used mightily by God.

Using my life as an example: I needed more discipline in the area of self-control and patience. God allowed me to suffer the consequences of my poor choices to be in a relationship that was contradictory to Christian living. I rushed into a relationship for which I had absolutely no business being a part of as a Christian man striving to live out a God honoring life. Even though the struggles were excruciating, God allowed me to see that I had no business being with such a person and that I had to get rid of some ungodly conduct and attitudes in my own life. I needed to repent of my poor choices and my sin before I could move on in my life and work towards the calling that God has put on my life. This calling consists of utilizing the gifts God gave to me to enhance God’s Kingdom which is why I was born in the first place. Had I not dealt with these struggles, I would have neither received God’s blessings(peace, joy, forgiveness) in my life, nor would I ever had realized my calling if I stayed in that ungodly relationship. Without these struggles and growth, I would most likely not be enthusiastically seeking God’s calling on my life as I am now doing. Moreover, I would not be striving to position myself for me to receive the Godly woman that God has in store for me. These struggles are propelling me: to a whole new level in my relationship with God; to His calling on my life; and for my preparation to receive a God-honoring Christian bride that He has for me one day. Moreover, these struggles have moved me towards counseling many of the single Christians I know so they do not repeat the same mistakes I made. These struggles have equipped me to help others which is making me more useful for God to use for His purposes.

God also works through circumstances.  For example, if we are impatient, we will find ourselves in a number of situations where we need to wait around.  This could take place anywhere from a long line at the grocery store to a red light that doesn’t seem to turn green very often.  God can use those circumstances to refine us so we can be more patient.

If we learn to cooperate with God and be quick to change and correct the areas he brings to light, then we will pass those tests and we will be promoted to new levels.   A brother in Christ encouraged me when I was struggling with difficult people.  My friend told me that God is looking to take me up to another level if I will just “graduate” from this level and learn how to not get offended by difficult people.  When I had previously failed, God allowed more difficult people into my life so I could be refined.  I am a work in progress, but I did grow that very day.  Praise be to God!

God is more interested in changing us than He is in changing our circumstances and other people.  And we cannot change other people either.  We can only change ourselves and trust God to deal with the other people in our lives.

We need to recognize that God wants to do a work in us.  He is molding and refining us.  When we are too busy trying to avoid the difficulty, God’s work is not being done.  When we pray to be delivered out of a situation, perhaps we are missing the point of why we are allowed to go through that difficult time.

We need to take the time to look deep inside ourselves and deal with the issue God is bringing to light.

We may want to run from our trials.  We may want to resist them.  But God will continue bringing up the issue again and again until we pass the test. We can continue learning the lessons the hard way or we can say, “Ok God, I’ll do it your way.  I’ll be patient.  I won’t run away. I’ll trust You.”

God is trying to shape us into the person He wants us to be.  Isaiah 64:8 says that we are the clay and God is the potter.  Clay works best when it is pliable and moldable.  If we are hard, crusty, and set in our ways, God will have to pound away at us in order to get out the lumps.

Trials are a test of our faith, character and endurance.  So don’t quit!  Don’t complain!  Don’t say, “Why is this happening to me?”

Instead, let’s stand strong and ask God, “What do you want me to learn and to do?”  God is giving us the opportunity for advancement.  Without opposition or resistance, there is no potential for growth or progress.

God never promised that we wouldn’t have challenges or difficulties.  Actually the Scriptures say the opposite.  In 1 Peter 1: 6-7, the Scriptures read, “So be truly glad.  There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you will have to endure many trials for a little while.  These trials will show that your faith is genuine.  It is being tested, as fire tests and purifies gold – though your faith is far more precious than mere gold.  So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.”

In closing, when we are going through difficult times in life, let’s not be hard-headed or stubborn.  Let’s remember that God is refining us and knocking off some of the rough edges.  Let’s work with God by keeping a good attitude, no matter what comes against us.  And let’s work on our own character so we can be more and more like Christ.

Romans 8: 28 reads “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.”

Additional Scriptures for strength:

Matthew 19: 26 = Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Mark 9: 23 = “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”

Philippians 4: 13 = I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

2 Timothy 1: 7 = For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.

1 John 5: 14-15 = And we are confident that He hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases Him.  And since we know He hears us when we make our requests, we also know that He will give us what we ask for.

1 John 3: 22 = And we will receive from Him whatever we ask because we obey Him and do the things that please Him.

Ephesians 1: 3 = Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

Proverbs 3:5-6 = Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.  Seek His will in all you do,
and He will show you which path to take.

1 Peter 5:7 = Casting all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 = For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.  In those days when you pray, I will listen.  If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.