Monday, October 3, 2011

Dealing with Struggles

We all have struggles, and working through those struggles can strengthen us.  In fact, James told his readers to consider it pure joy when they encountered trials (James 1:3).  We can be joyful because we know that God will use the hardship to strengthen us.

But in the middle of the situation, it can be really hard.

I am learning to remind myself of a few truths when I hit the hard times. 

First, I remember that I don't have the full picture.  There are pieces of the situation that I don't see and may never see.  God is at work behind the scenes.  He is doing good stuff, because that's what God does.  I have to trust him that he is in charge, and trust that I will see him working for good in due time.  He may be leading me to change my attitude or actions or habits.  He is making me more like him, and that is a long process.

I also remember that my emotions lie to me.  Everything seems like it is falling apart in the midst of a trial.  In my mind I know that it's not all that bad, but my emotions distort reality.  I remember that I will see more clearly soon enough.  I may just have to wait it out, but I will get there.

I can't forget that God has always come through in my trials.  Some have hurt worse than others, but through all of them, he has worked good, in his time.  Of course, I repeat Romans 8:28 to myself:  "We know that God works all things together for good, for those who love him and are called according to his purpose."

I also go to the Psalms for some company.  There I find the psalmist experiencing the full range of emotions.  In one psalm he is jubilant, in another he is wondering how long God will abandon him.  He keeps it real.  Life doesn't seem so bad when I realize that others have been in hard spots like mine.  They have survived and even thrived through the hardships.

Finally, I trust God not to abandon me.  Whatever my trial, Jesus is here with me. 

Trials are never fun.  But they are worth it.  If I can keep my sights set on Jesus, and know that he is leading me to a good place, the struggle is lifted to a higher plane.  It is God's supernatural work in me.  And that's good.