Yesterday’s post was about struggle. I shared about what my life was like when I struggled in myself and with myself.
But what happens when we seek Christ, when we turn our struggles over to Him? No more struggles?
As I began to seek Christ, I still was under the impression that following His plan would rid me of struggle. Although I do not struggle with the same things, that is not to say that there is no struggle in my life. True, I do not struggle with whose plan to follow…I follow God’s plan. But there is a sense of struggle in determining and persevering in God’s plan.
I still feel insecure from time to time- in my marriage, as a mom, as a woman…but instead of turning to my former behaviors to seek some sort of peace in these things, I give my struggle to God. When I struggle to figure out what to say ‘Yes’ to, I turn that struggle over to God instead of attempting to please everyone by saying ‘yes’ to everything. When I find myself struggling with feeling ‘less than’ perfect, which is often, instead of seeking perfection through abusing my body, I turn that struggle over to God.
I do not dwell in the struggle of this world to be thin, beautiful, loved by many, to have it all together. Instead, I abide in the struggle for Christ. When I am struggling to do His will for me, I never feel condemned. When I am faced with a choice to fit in to the ideal of this world—what would be considered ‘normal’—I struggle to find where God would have me go; what He would have me do. This means that I must constantly struggle.
I used to struggle in sadness…now I struggle in joy.
E.M. Bounds in his work, The Necessity of Prayer, discusses this type of struggle:
Paul charged the Romans to ‘strive together with him in prayer,’ that is, to help him in his struggle of prayer. The word means to enter into a contest, to fight against adversaries. It means, moreover, to engage with fervent zeal to endeavor to obtain.
That is how I describe the joyful struggle of my present life. It is not a hardship, a scary, winless battle I face. Rather, it is an opportunity, to stand up against the inevitable enemy, not in my own power, but in the power given to me through Christ. When I realize the struggle is not mine but I am merely a soldier on the side of the One who has already won the Great War, I can joyfully participate in the fight.
When I was struggling in self, a look in the mirror that wasn’t pleasing to me (or anything that wasn’t pleasing to me for that matter) would send me into negative thinking, bad behaviors, attitudes, and self-pity. But, when struggling for Christ, if I am having one of ‘those days’ where I feel ‘less than’ I should, I stand up, I push back, I speak truth into the struggle….
God, thank you that I am not defined by what I see in a mirror, what others think about me, or by the mistakes I make. Thank you that I am not ruled by my feelings or my circumstances. Thank you, Lord that I know that you have more for me to do than bemoan a worldly standard that I do not meet. Father, I know you have plans for me today…one’s that give me a future and a hope. Help me to focus on those plans, not on things that do not matter. Number my moments so that they will add up ONE—one focus, one plan, one task—to seek your will instead of worrying about wants.
Before I have even finished brushing my teeth, my mind is focused and alert to God’s presence in my day. There will be many opportunities in my days to struggle in this way….through prayer. Each one is an opportunity to remind myself for whom I struggle.
I struggle in life- we all do. But as children of God, I have the privilege to struggle toward the goal of Christ Jesus. Instead of focusing on the struggle against the world, I strive toward Christ. It is still an effort, a wrestling, a pressing back, but one that I do not do in my own strength. I do it with the power of the One who created, defined, and sent His Son to complete the Great Struggle through His ultimate sacrifice on the Cross.