A life with no struggles, wouldn’t that be awesome? Somehow a segment of the Christian world in America has adopted this view. If you do struggle, you lack the faith you should have to overcome the obstacle that presents itself to you. That’s hard news for people who struggle with addictions, anxiety, depression, and other mental issues or even physical issues that have not yet been healed.
I’m not saying that God doesn’t ever set you completely free from the challenges you face, but I am saying if He hasn’t it’s time to let go of the guilt of not being good enough to overcome and trust in a God who may slowly refine us, mold us, and change us into the image He has created us to be.
In the midst of a struggle that I have fought against most of my life, I’m slowly getting an understanding of this. A friend recently pointed me back to Paul’s quote on his “Thorn in his flesh.” I was talking about my struggle with anxiety and memories of bad times. She encouraged me to look at these times as an opportunity to praise God for the struggle because it is the very thing that has driven me to my awareness of how much I need Him throughout the years. As 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 puts it in the Message, it is the very thing that has “pushed me to my knees.” Had I felt no pain, I would not know the need for God’s healing. Had I not struggled, I would not know the need for God’s help. Had I not seen all that I lack, I wouldn’t understand how I am only complete in Jesus. It is in my understanding of how broken I am that I find my need for Jesus to make me new, and I am able to allow Him to do just that so I can live the life of freedom, peace, and joy He has promised.
Sometimes the process of being chiseled into the Masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10 NLT) that God makes me uncomfortable, and I cannot in my own strength produce the change that needs to be. But God Is here with me He doesn’t leave me alone or unfinished. He completes the good work He begins. (Philippians 1:6)
There’s a skit by The Skit Guys called “God’s Chisel” I have thought of it often through the years since I saw it first. I’m kind of fond of “InstaME” instantly I am everything I wished I could be, perfect teeth, hair, mood, etc. But that simply isn’t reality. I am “ProcessME”. One lesson at a time learned, one battle at a time fought and with Christ won, One area of struggle resolved at a time as I learn to walk in victory. “ProcessMe” is began when I begin my life in Christ and He begins to slowly change me and strengthen me to make what I was meant to be all along. It may take time and involve struggle, but as I learn to turn these things over to Him one struggle at a time, I find myself free.
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 MSG “Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,
My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.
Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.”