Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
Everyone faces struggles in life. It can be as simple as a skinned knee at the playground, or it could be a life-threatening illness. All too often we try to face these struggles alone, thinking we have to ‘tough it out’ to get through. Life’s struggles—they come in all flavours. They come at the most unexpected times. They interrupt plans and dreams. Yet some are chosen!
What are your struggles and how do you cope with them? For too many it is a struggle with health, such as cancer—where the struggle can go on for years. For parents it can be with the struggles of their children. For some it is a struggle with beliefs and doubts. For too many it is a struggle with housing, or finances, or finding a job—or just plain fairness. Some struggles are thrust upon us and we resent their intrusion very much.
And then sometimes we say, Life’s not fair! Bad things happen: things that I didn’t choose; things I don’t deserve. And you know what? That’s really difficult. One thing is for sure about life: we are all guaranteed to have troubles at some point or another. There’s no avoiding it. I think there are two key factors that are essential for overcoming hard times:
- my attitude, and
- my support system.
Facing Problems in Our Lives
When you face problems in your life:
- How do you react?
- What is your attitude about the problem?
- Are you a worrier?
- Do you avoid the problem?
God talks to us over and over in Scripture about the attitude he wants us to have in difficult times. This attitude encompasses humility, trust, and joy.
First God calls us to humble ourselves. James 4:10 says, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” I don’t know if you’ve figured it out yet, but no matter how hard you try to control your life, stuff still happens. Stuff that you didn’t choose, didn’t plan for. And some of it seems to be just too much to bear. Admit that to God. Don’t try to cast blame or point fingers. Simply humble yourself and admit you need help.
Second, God calls us to entrust our problems to him. Let him be the first friend you ‘call’ in times of trouble. 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxiety on him for he cares for you.” Nothing is too big or too small for God. He loves you and wants to carry you through the hard times.
Third, God wants you to keep a positive outlook, and even find joy in your trials. James 1:2-4 says: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” Know that in and through your trying times, God is with you and he is doing a great work in you.
To understand this, ask yourself:
- What can I learn from this situation?
- What have I learned about myself?
- What am I learning about God?
- Where has God been working in my life up to this point to prepare me and support me?
Struggles Strengthen Us
There is joy to be had in knowing that hard times won’t last and you will come out of it stronger, wiser, and more mature. When difficult times hit, remember that God works ALL things for the good of those who love him. (Romans 8:28) God doesn’t make bad things happen. That’s just part of being in this world. But God can make good things come out of any situation.
Some questions to consider:
- When you face problems in your life, how do you respond?
- What is your attitude about the problem?
- How do you move forward?
- Do you turn to God for help?
- Do you trust God to hear you and answer you?
- Are you able to find joy in the midst of your troubles?
So the Bible teaches that God offers help for those facing struggles. Not all struggles are bad for us—we can learn some pretty valuable lessons.
There’s a story about a man who found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared; he sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could and it could go no farther. Then the man decided to help the butterfly, so he took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon.
The butterfly then emerged easily. But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time. Neither happened! In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly.
What the man in his kindness and haste did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening were nature’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.
Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If nature allowed us to go through our life without any obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be as strong as what we could have been.