Sunday, April 26, 2009

Struggling - the avenue of growth

Right now, I’m struggling in a couple of different areas of my life. In one of these areas, the emotional struggle is intense so I’ve had to isolate myself from some things in order to protect my thoughts and my emotions. Hopefully, as I go a bit further on this journey, this situation won’t be as painful and I won’t feel the need to protect myself. I’ll be able to trust God to do that.

For years. I’ve avoided struggles as much as possible since struggling leads to pain and to all sorts of hurtful emotions and I don't like to hurt. Over the years in the institutional church, I developed an institutional mindset and I began to think that as a follower of Christ, I wasn't supposed to struggle anymore. I begin to equate struggling with immaturity or a lack of spiritual commitment.

However, Jesus said that in this world we would have troubles so troubles are a way of life for everyone. While we’re in this world, we’ll have problems and we’ll struggle but Jesus said we can take heart so, even in the middle of our struggles, we can be encouraged. For me, it sometimes helps just knowing that I’m not alone. Knowing that others have had similar struggles and have gotten through them somehow encourages me that I can get through them too.

Struggles are not a sign of immaturity or a lack of commitment. They're a normal part of life and, here I’m going to say something that may shock some of you . . . if you never struggle, you’ll never grow.

Life begins with a struggle as a baby struggles to leave the safety of its mother’s womb and then struggles to take its first breath. The struggle begins then and continues throughout its life.

My one month old grandson was recently diagnosed with RSV. This is a highly contagious viral infection that in children that young can be deadly. When I asked my son if the doctor had prescribed any medication, the answer was, “no.” Since the cause is a virus, the only treatment is continual monitoring. So, this tiny little baby had to struggle through this illness in order to regain his health. Fortunately, the resources in his little body were sufficient and he’s now fully recovered.

A number of years ago, my son, the baby’s father, made a profound statement. He said that when we’re too quick to run to the doctor or to take medicine, we don’t give our immune system a chance to work. That simple little statement has stayed with me over the years. It’s only as our immune system struggles to heal us of colds and minor injuries that it will be strengthened for the tougher battles which are ahead.

I believe that’s true for all of the struggles of life. We tend to want the quick fix. We want somebody to run in there and make it all better. We pray and ask God to deliver us right now but chances are his deliverance will happen only as we struggle and walk through the circumstances. I’ve heard it said that God won’t necessarily deliver from the our circumstances but he will deliver us through them. I believe that’s often true and I’m beginning to see it more and more in my life as he walks with me through my circumstances.

The surprise for me is that I no longer look at struggles as I used to. I’m not saying that I look forward to them but I now accept them for what they are and I look to see where God is in the middle of them so that I can join him in what he's doing. That has made all of the difference in the world for me.


Bino M. said...

Aida - A great, encouraging post! Thank you!

Aida said...

Glad you liked it, Bino.

lionwoman said...

This is a great post on a very important topic. I look back and realize how terrible it is that some IC's teach that struggling is wrong and a result of immaturity or sin. Sadly it makes sense though that our culture's ICs teach this. As a culture we're allergic to struggling and suffering. I am also trying to really learn about how struggling and suffering really do work for good. Thanks for this post!

Joel B. said...

Really good, and really encouraging! Struggles truly are not a sign of a lack of faith but are a sign of emerging growth. Sadly, many people think God has rejected them or is ignoring them or isn't working in their lives when they are struggling, when in reality they're walking fully in His love and grace.

Aida said...

Thanks, Amy. You’re right. We lead such comfortable lives in this country compared to others that when we have even a little bit of discomfort, it’s a major thing and we easily fall apart. Things are difficult here at times but most of us really have no concept of what it means to suffer.

Struggling is an opportunity to grow if we’ll let it be that. As you know, I’ve been struggling in some areas but I’ve also seen Father teach me a lot through those struggles and I’ve grown in spite of myself.

Joel, I love how you phrased it. “Struggles truly are not a sign of a lack of faith but are a sign of emerging growth.” We don’t like to believe it and for a number of years, I denied it but for true lasting growth to emerge, it’ll involve some amount of suffering.

God never leaves us even as we walk through those times of struggles and, if we’ll allow him to walk with us, we’ll find more of his life and strength revealed to us.