Struggling is hard. Struggling for long, extended periods of time is harder. As I struggle with certain issues for long times I begin to wonder, like I said in the last post, if I am taking Satan by the hand, or not? Am I really resisting? If so, why hasn’t this struggle gone away yet? Is it because I am doing something wrong, am I giving in?
How do I know that I am not giving in – that I’m doing the right thing? What’s the difference between struggling with something and sinning? The difference is this: I can struggle with sin, with my heart and eyes fixed on Jesus, or I can struggle with Jesus, with my heart and eyes fixed on sin. What am I pursuing? Jesus or sin?
Am I constantly sinning, while struggling with what Jesus says about that sin; or, am I constantly seeking Jesus, and struggling with the sins that so easily entangle me? If I am seeking Jesus with all my heart and constantly throwing off the sin that entangles me, I am not giving into the sin. I am not taking Satan by the hand.
This is freeing, but even so, when the battle gets hard, and when it goes on for what seems like forever, sometimes doubts arise in my heart again. If I am doing the right thing, if I am indeed resisiting, and seeking Jesus, why do I still struggle?
Often I feel like Paul when he says,
“What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subjected to death?” (Rom. 7:24)
It is hard – burdensome, wretched, to struggle with sin, fear, and doubts. It doesn’t feel good. I don’t like being weak, I don’t often embrace needing help, but God says that, “My grace is sufficent for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” And like Lisa Bevere said in her book, Adamant,
“He is not ignorant of our pain or repusled by our condition. He sees us wrestling with confusion. He does not pull away when sees us struggling. His Spirit draws near. . . “
We are in such a perfect position to experience God’s glory when we are struggling, and brought humbly yet desperately to our knees. God is teaching me to not despise my weaknesses, but bring them to him. He is teaching me not to despise the hard hours. During some of Jesus’ hardest hours he said this:
“Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” (John 12:27-28)
God will not always spare us the hard hours, because he wishes to produce a harvest of righteousness through them, but He does give us the chance to have His Name glorified in our lives. As we struggle with struggling, choosing to intentionally turn away from sin and to Jesus, and learning to not despise the hard hours of this life, God will pour out His Presence and glory in such a marvelous way.
We can also say with Paul,
“Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Rom. 7:25)