I once read how setbacks and struggles need not be permanent and need not define us. The author shared it’s like riding a bike on a long trip. You might be doing really well, go a couple hundred miles, and then crash into a ditch. You don’t say, “Oh no, now I have to go back and start all over.” You get back up, get on the bike, and start pedaling. Those first couple hundred miles were real progress!
I think struggling is a built-in part of living in this sin-filled world. We have to struggle. And yet it’s amazing how often people think that a longstanding, ongoing struggle against a particular temptation means they are somehow failing at life. I don’t think struggle equals failure. I think it means God is still working in you.
We’ve been taught that “success” is what matters. But it’s through struggle that we tend to learn, get stronger, and see true change take place. In fact, I’m less concerned about friends who are struggling than friends who aren’t.
The worrying thing for me is when people give up struggling. If I give in and cease to struggle, I become a grouchier person. I become less patient, loving, and joyful, and I tend to think about others less. Oddly, it seems that giving up on my struggles and giving into myself actually makes my life harder, not easier.
I would encourage us to embrace struggle as part of our Jesus-journey here in this sin-filled world. The apostle Paul frequently wrote about his continuing hardships, the thorn in his side, and his struggle to do things his spirit didn’t want to do. Paul writes:
So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:21-25)
Blessed are those who struggle, for in our struggles we have one that has come to rescue us: Jesus!