Inside our Desire to Struggle Well

You can do this. God created you to be strong and capable. Don’t disappoint God.

I hear the words and I believe the words. No one says the words to me. No, they’re the words I tell myself. Truth and lies constantly invade my thoughts, jockeying for prominence.

God created me to be strong and capable. He created me for great things. But, he doesn’t expect me to do everything myself and dependence on him certainly isn’t disappointing. In fact, he invites us to depend on him in both good and bad times.

We can only handle so much on our own.

Why do I insist on taking care of things myself instead of giving everything to God? Maybe its pride or maybe its shame, but the little things seem too insignificant to bother God with. Unfortunately, the little things add up. Last year was too much.

When the hurricane forced us to cancel our much-anticipated vacation, I hid in my room. As we squished into fewer and fewer spaces of our home as we renovated during a pandemic, I “ate my feelings.”

Life feels too hard. It is all too much.

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4 (ESV)

Inside Our Desire To Struggle Well
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How can we be joyful when life feels like it’s falling apart?

I didn’t sign up for a pandemic. Quite honestly, my capacity for managing life was fully extended before March. Nonetheless, God’s plans are not ours.

On any given day, my thoughts ricochet wildly like a pinball machine. 2020 was not a good year for my mind and so far 2021 hasn’t proven less difficult. If I’m honest, people will think I’m weak and unqualified, maybe a little unstable. But if I’m not honest, they’ll think I’m fake or out of touch. What do I share? How will people respond? Am I being faithful if I’m struggling?

On more than one occasion, I worried that people would doubt my faith if I shared my struggles. My belief in God hasn’t wavered, but neither has my belief that I should be able to manage my life better.

Our faithfulness is not measured in our ability to avoid struggles.

If we’re being honest, I know God is still good and he is still working. I know he is here with me. And, I don’t want to disappoint him. My heart wants to be obedient, but my mind and body are tired. We’re tired of trying to navigate each day’s new developments. We’re tired of shifting today, so we can pivot tomorrow. We crave a sense of normalcy.

If I must struggle, my earnest desire is to struggle well.

“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12

Maybe the past year has been a gift. God has given me the opportunity to see and know the end of myself. He’s shown me how far I can go and how much I can withstand. In his grace, he’s allowed me to push myself and be reminded of where the end of me becomes the beginning of him.

Many times, I longed for “normal.” Thinking back, when life was normal I longed for something better.

Life is but a continuum of experiences, some more enjoyable than others. The only constant is God’s presence in our lives and his desire for us to be obedient.

What Is Coaching
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We can withstand the trials we’re facing because we are not alone.

Until the virus is under control, God will help us make the best choices for our families. Until our schools and workplaces return to normal, God will give us patience, comfort, and grace for the times we fall short with patience and comfort. Until we regain a sense of control over our circumstances, he will carry the weight of our burdens.

You are not the only one who feels like a failure today. I’ve yelled at my kids more than I want to admit. I’ve longed for time alone and felt selfish for my desire. I’ve been jealous of those who could go and do, angry at those whose concern seemed insufficient, and resentful of those who didn’t acknowledge my burdens.

Even so, God is still good. He still has a plan for me. And he’s proud of my desire to struggle well. Our dependency as we struggle today prepares us to move forward into a more intimate relationship with him and greater obedience.

We’re trying our best and he’s proud of us.

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