My dear friend Ronda has a saying that I love. When she’s struggling with something or things just seem not to be going smoothly, she says “I’m on Struggle Street, and there seems to be no exit ramp in sight.” I always laugh when she says it, and like any cool friend, she lets me use it too.
Do you ever feel like you’re on Struggle Street and there seems to be no exit ramp in sight? You’ve got this project to get done, and yet all you see before you is too much work? Or you have a relationship filled with conflict and you just want to see a turnaround? The truth is, I don’t really like struggle. I mean, who does?! Struggle can leave many of us feeling weak, inept, and so overwhelmed we just want to throw in the towel and give up — take the easy road and forget it. Even if you’re a fighter, most of us encounter such a struggle sometimes that we can’t see a way around or through, and it just seems easier to stop.
Writing can be like that for me.
When God opened the door last year and made it quite obvious that I was to begin writing, I was trying to be on board and obedient; but truthfully, I wasn’t very full of faith about it. I even went about saying things like, “Well, it just doesn’t come naturally to me at all.” “I couldn’t be less equipped to be a writer; maybe it’s not God?!” “I’ve just been so busy with other things, I haven’t had time.”
I only saw it from the natural standpoint and gave every excuse I could come up with. And as a result, I wrote very little. Why? Because it all involved struggle. I struggled making time (there’s always something else to be done). I struggled with sitting still and getting quiet and focused (I could blame my busy-minded mother, but we’ll not go there). I struggled majorly with my thoughts: What do I say? Is this really going to help or benefit anyone?
So time and time again, I cave in to my flesh and procrastinate for yet another day or week … OK, even months!
Many of you have probably, or are currently facing far greater measures of struggle. I believe one of the battles we have to conquer first in overcoming struggle is the conflict in our mind. We have to resist all the voices telling us why it’s so hard, why it can’t be done — and get in agreement with truth.
Another tool in our toolbelt (which I seem to frequently misplace) is discipline. For this young, free-spirited southern gal, that might as well be a four-letter word! Yet, the need to embrace discipline is proving to be a true necessity with each task I face.
Friends, I truly believe God in all His love designed each individual with profound uniqueness. He truly does have plans for us (Jeremiah 29:11), purposes He desires to see fulfilled in and through us in this life here on Earth. Sometimes what He is asking or leading us to do makes total sense in our understanding based on our gifts, personalities and resources. But what about when it doesn’t make sense? When the finances aren’t there or you feel completely ill-equipped to do what He’s asking you to do? But He’s asking, calling you to step out and trust Him, to do what is seemingly impossible.
I’ll share with you some truths I’m learning to cling to and move forward by:
- Just as Jesus told Mary, nothing is ever impossible with God (Luke 1:37).
- Paul reminds us that God is able to make all grace abound toward us that we would have all sufficiency in all things — an abundance for every good work (2 Corinthians 9:8).
- We aren’t sufficient in/of ourselves, our sufficiency is from God (2 Corinthians 3:5; 12:9).
- Abraham had to patiently endure in faith to obtain the promise (Hebrews 6:15; 10:36).
- We have been given a perfect, constant Helper in the person of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16,17, 26).
- Trials and struggle test (refine) my faith to produce patience, which leads to maturity. Struggle can burn away that which is fleshly or false and refine our true selves (James 1:2-4).
Ever wonder what would have happened if the woman with the issue of blood had not fought through the crowd to touch Jesus for healing? Or what if Martin Luther King had caved in to all the adversities that had to be overcome in the Civil Rights movement? What about the mama who has labored for hours to bring life into the world? More so, what if Jesus had found it just too overwhelming to go through the beating and sufferings to give us life and make us whole? Think of all the people affected by one person’s will to keep going and going and not give up.
So many times we are just agonizing through the struggle, waiting and praying for it to be over soon. But struggle can be a lesson, a teacher, and it can bring life. And when God is in it, blessings are on the other side.
More often than not, this walk of faith is not about doing what seems natural, even though living in what seems natural is where we are comfortable; hence the struggle. If we are truly Christ-followers and our lives are to reflect Jesus and the kingdom of God, then our lives should be filled with the supernatural. We are called to work in gardens of God-sized dreams and visions and bring them to harvest, to do the seemingly impossible. But we have no need to fear because it is through our inabilities, our insufficiencies, our weaknesses that He shows Himself strong to us and a world in great need.
We were made for interdependence, and this is why God calls us to those very things that cause us to feel inept or incapable, those things that really stretch us. We can’t do them in our own strength and we shouldn’t try. Whatever great things God is calling you to do that seem crazy-impossible in the natural, know this: He has a plan, a step-by-step-with-Him plan. He has given the Holy Spirit as a Helper and the Body of Christ to work with. If we will just abide in Christ and keep a willing mind and heart, we can do great things — greater than we could ever imagine.
I pray that whatever struggles you are facing now, you’ll choose to throw off fear and excuses and have faith for things you cannot comprehend or see. I guarantee you’ll be surprised, and your faith, as well as others’ faith around you, will grow.