28 Jun Warring With Our Struggles
Struggles isn’t a term that is new to anyone. At almost every point in life, we will meet some form of difficulty. Let’s take this pandemic as a sample. When we were all confined at home to prevent the spread of the virus, I hear many of my extroverted friends telling me how trying it is for them to face the walls at home, with minimal contact with the outside world. And now that most of us are returning to our workplace or school, and “kind of” restoring the old routine, I hear how people have grown comfortable in their home setting and has a sense of resistance in interacting with others all over again. Some may also be struggling with tensions at home from seeing each other’s weaknesses more, growing distant from their closed ones, or fear of heading out and getting infected. We may have all sorts of wars within like anxiety, stress or uncertainties. Now what is your coping mechanism when struggles come? Some may use the avoidance method, just escape from thinking about it or use some distractions. Some may spend a lot of time dwelling on how to overcome it with their own methods. Regardless of how we cope, it is often that this thought will visit us: “I can’t do this”, and for some, this will be a very defining thought that ends up crippling us or pushing us into unnecessary insinuations. In fact, this is one of the hardest struggles to overcome, the “I Can’t” mentality. If not dealt with, it will cause a rift from our relationship with God and become a thorn in our flesh. Therefore, the truth of God often reminds and speaks to us about fully receiving His love daily and restore a blameless heart, freed from the burdens of our accusations, self pity and doubts. This is all so that we will have the strength to wage war with our struggles and live out God’s goodness through us.
Inability to battle with our struggles
So let us talk about the main reasons that are rendering us helpless in our battle during times of struggles. There are two main issues at hand here.
1) Firstly, our spirits are receiving negative insinuations. People tend to get absorbed by thoughts such as thinking that maybe it is not God’s perfect will and thus God might not bless them. Or it could be a sense of self pity, self doubt, losing confidence. It could also be when we are oppressed by a bad outcome and feel that our problem is too hard to resolved by anyone. Finally, it could also cause us to develop some form of judgment or negative opinions of others, losing trust in people around them. These insinuations will give us conflicted thoughts, about people, matters and even ourselves. Eventually, it may even cause us to constantly worry about our decisions, tasks, actions, thus losing our focus and being unable to give our best in the things that God has called us to do. It is a very weary and disheartening state to be in when we are consumed by our insinuations.
2) Secondly, the reason that we are helpless in our struggles is that we are taken over by our emotions. When we are engulfed by our own thoughts, it is natural that we will immerse deeper and deeper into what we feel, and be affirmed that what we feel is true. Now, this is often in contrary to God’s truth. What truth is that? Through Christ, God will definitely love us, guide us, protect us, promise us and use us for His good. When we are handled by our own feelings, all these truths get blurry and warped. When we do not see ourselves, examine our situations and people around us through these truths, the feelings we have will gradually deceive us. This either cause us to misplace our identity as a child of God on something else or cause our spirits to be closed up and less active in seeking God’s work in our lives. For example, letting loose and doing whatever gives us momentary relief in this world so that we do not need to face our realities. We can keep doing that, but every time we have to go back to face what we ought to do, we lose strength and conviction.
Restoring your battle stance against struggles
So how then may we restore our battle stance against struggles? Now if you could, please go to the bible and turn with me to the book of <Mark 16: 14-15>. It says here, “Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen. He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” And in <verse 17-18>, Jesus continued by saying, “And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” Now here, the emphasis is not telling us that you can do many amazing things and be unscathed. The emphasis here is that when we believe in God, He accompanies us to achieve what He brings us into. Many times when we are met with troubles, it does not come from the problem per se, but from our heart that cannot receive answers. But the answers are actually found in God’s word. So before we deal with our struggles, we need to affirm a few points.
1) Firstly, it is God’s absolute love. In the bible, the first promise shown to us is the absolute love of God for us. Even when the disciples had unbelieving hearts or hardened faith, God used their lives well for His glory to built His kingdom and later on, blessed them. This is a promise God has given us above all promises. Therefore, whatever issues or problems we face has a reason in God’s plans. This is a covenant we have to hold onto, because nothing that happens can rob this away from us.
2) Secondly, when we test and approve all things with God, He will reveal to us the purpose of our struggles. As we seek out answers while holding onto God’s promises, we will have a few revelations to our struggles:
1) Firstly, it reveals our mission. That our hurts could be used to empathise and comfort others with struggles as well, bringing them closer to God. Just as Jesus who was suffering on the cross, He never forgets His mission, which is to save souls. This is the purpose of our direction in life, that drives the things we do. When we understand and accept God’s calling for us, we will be more and more sensitive to how God’s love works in our lives.
2) Next, it reveals the purpose of our time. Some times, some struggles require you to wait. Some struggles require a course of time to be resolved. When we have our mission in mind, the time spent waiting for God’s answers will not cause us to be disheartened but learn the importance of trusting our uncertainties with God. Sometimes, it is in the wait that we receive the most answers and realisation about the state of our hearts and our motives.
3) Then, it also reveals the purpose of your circumstances. It is in certain trying circumstances that we realise that areas that we truly need to pray for and areas we need to renew in us. This grows in us a precise and alert spirit to our circumstances. Like how is this circumstance affecting my faith? Why am I troubled about this outcome? What is my purpose of doing this task or making this decision?
4) And finally, it reveals the purpose of your relationships. Through difficult times, it shows us which are the relationships that are truly needed in our lives. The ones that build you up in faith, in God’s word and in your identity. At times, even challenging relationships that God put us in may be to help us grow in love, patience and be close to God’s heart. So before we dive in or avoid interactions, let us first seek the Lord’s perfect will for us and let these relationships around us be great lessons in our faith journey.
Learn to use our strongest weapon: The Holy Spirit
To truly battle our struggles, we can never do it by our own limited strengths and every changing emotions or thoughts. We need to learn how to use the greatest battle weapon God has given us, and that is the Holy Spirit. Paul says in <Philippians 4:11-13>, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” This is a very famed verse but here, God wants us to know that to use our Holy Spirit is to rely on God’s strength. We need to hold onto what Paul says he has learnt here: To battle daily in spirit against the world, but not be deceived by accusations. To discover God’s perfect will for us in our day to day. To find reasons to give thanks and transcend our negative emotions with God’s ever present grace. When these lessons become a habitual go-to in our living, we will naturally restore our battle stance against struggles and enjoy the fruits of contentment.