Thriving in Struggle

Article by: Bridgehaven Team

Here’s what bugs me about my heart.  It seems that in my life, the times where I grew the most and the times where I saw the Lord do the most were times when I was in the pit of despair and struggling.  That bugs me.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m willing to surrender to the providence of God, but somehow it seems wrong that the Lord has to pry my fingers off of my precious idols time and time again.  After 35 years of walking with him, shouldn’t I be more compliant and aware of my tendencies?  One would think so.  C.S. Lewis said it’s fine to talk about forgiveness until you have to forgive someone.  That’s true, but for me it’s easy to talk about God’s providence until I need to trust in his providence.  Most of the time I’d rather just talk about it.

I remember being younger and reading about the obstinacy of the Israelites.  They watched the amazing miracles that God did in Egypt using Moses, then they walked through the Red Sea and when they got to the other side they almost immediately began to complain about their discomfort, and began reminiscing about how great they had it as slaves in Egypt. I used to consistently condemn them in my heart saying how foolish they were and how I would never do that.  Never say never.


Recently I was experiencing some pretty strong anxiety and fear because of a change I had made in my life.  To be fair, it was a major life stage change, but I prayed that the Lord would take me back to where I was instead of having to labor in this new endeavor feeling uncertainty, fear, and anxiety.  But then I made the “mistake” of reading one of my journal entries from four years previously.  In that entry, I was complaining about the situation I was having to endure at the time and asking God for deliverance.  What was most amazing about the entry was that I was praying for something that today I was complaining about.  He had answered my prayer specifically and instead of now thanking him for that answer, I was complaining about it and asking him desperately to take me back to where it felt more safe.  That sounds awfully familiar to what I had read in Exodus.  Ouch.


I have since learned a few things.  One of the passages I have clung to in this soulful turmoil has been Isaiah 26:3 which says,


“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”


I have pondered and chewed upon that passage time and time again.  I am slow, but I’m learning what it means to keep my mind stayed upon him.  It means surrendering and holding captive the thoughts that go through my mind that say “I had it better before” or “you can’t handle this” or “God is holding out on you.”  It amazes me how quickly my mind can run in this direction, but I am learning to immediately surrender those thoughts to him.  After all, he has a perfect track record of goodness and mercy toward me.  As I look back on my life I can’t think of a single instance when he has left me high and dry.  Not one.  So I can look forward and expect that he holds my best interests at heart.


I have also learned how important it is to bring these struggles into the light.  I need the body of Christ.  Whether it is your spouse, your friends, or your small group, it is vital that you allow others to walk with you through your struggles.  Proverbs 27:17 says,


“Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”


The body of Christ is amazing.  I am grateful how I have been surrounded by prayer warriors who have been willing to go to bat for me as I make this monumental transition.  It has also moved me closer in love toward these amazing people.  Life was not meant to be lived in isolation, but in fellowship with other like-minded people who will encourage and support our convictions and hold our arms high during battle.  One thing I have learned is that life is all about relationships.  That is what gives our lives such texture and color.


Yea, it bugs me that it seems to take struggle in my life to get my attention, but it encourages me to no end that God is patient and loving and is committed to my sanctification.  1 Thessalonians 5:14 tells us that he is faithful to completely sanctify us. That is, to make us more like him, to bring us to complete maturity and to give us the grace we need when we need it.  That inspires me.  Especially in the midst of struggle!