Dealing with Struggle in the Christian Life

Dealing with Struggle in the Christian Life | Wayne Stiles.
by Wayne Stiles

We had no idea what following Jesus would demand when we started out.

We thought we knew.

vivozoom 97229493 w small1 Dealing with Struggle in the Christian Life

Photo: Tyler Olson, via Vivozoom

We thought the Christian life meant that once we believed in Jesus, if we walked obediently, God would bless us, protect us, put us at ease—basically dote on us as His children. To some extent, we still expect that.

But God wants to give us something greater than those things.

Releasing the Christian Life We Want

My uncle has a painting by Bill Hampton hanging in his home. The picture shows a crusty old cowboy, rugged and wrinkled, squinting just past you. The caption at the bottom reveals his thoughts in simple terms:

“There were a helluva lot of things they didn’t tell me when I hired on with this outfit.”

That cowboy might as well be Peter or John or any of the other disciples. Or he could be you or me.

Capernaum Synagogue © Stile Dealing with Struggle in the Christian Life

Photo: The Synagogue in Capernaum

One day in Capernaum, Jesus set straight a crowd who intended to make Him king by force, and He spoke some hard words. Afterwards, many no longer followed Him. Jesus turned to His men with a question: “You do not want to leave too, do you?” (John 6:67).

Peter’s answer reflects the attitude we should have: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). Jesus’ words are hard words—but there are no alternatives.

There cannot be.

Welcome to the Normal Christian Life

Hardship is normal for the Christian life. Peter would later write, “Do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12).

God promises struggles because God shapes us through them. Our growth comes no other way. The Lord wants to give us more than comfort. He wants to give Christlikeness.

But mull this over as well:

  • Our brief, little life here on earth represents the only time in all of eternity when we can glorify God in the midst of struggle.
  • Have you ever considered struggle as a temporary privilege? (Take the time to read the scene leading up to Acts 5:41.)
  • In heaven, we’ll honor Christ to His face. But now we have the privilege of honoring Him in the face of struggle—by faith, not by sight.
  • Then we’ll glory in His transfiguration. Now we glorify Him beneath the cross we bear . . . and in temptation and weakness (see 2 Cor. 12:7-9).

I’m no masochist, believe me. And yet, I’m eager to honor God during the longest life He will allow me and, while I’m here, to struggle well.

Question: What surprises did the Christian life hand you–both pleasant and not-so-pleasant? Leave your comment below.

Adapted from Wayne Stiles, Walking in the Footsteps of Jesus: A Devotional Journey Through the Lands and Lessons of Christ (Ventura, CA: Regal, 2008), pp. 92-93. Used by permission


About ptl2010

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2 Responses to Dealing with Struggle in the Christian Life

  1. >> “What surprises did the Christian life hand you–both pleasant and not-so-pleasant?”

    When I became a Christian, I had no expectations. God made Himself known to me in a very dramatic way.

    After 22 yrs of abuse, and being told at least daily that I was totally evil; that no one would ever want me, so I might as well do the world a favour and kill myself, I did NOT expect anything good. However, God changed my life completely. Everything was new – and wonderful!

    Now, 54 years later, everything is still wonderful . . . but as I look back on my life with Him, I can see quite clearly that the times of hardships and problems were the times He used to “grow” me.

    I paraphrase James 1:2-5 . . . “Count, know, let, ask . . . We can COUNT it all joy when beset by trials, because we KNOW the purposes of God. We can LET God’s maturing process work in us as we ASK for wisdom, that we will not waste the opportunity, but will use it to grow and mature.”

    What an amazing God!

  2. Rob Barkman says:

    What a wonderful blessing it is to know that by sharing in the sufferings of Christ with a Godly spirit, we can be living witnesses of the grace He has shown to us! Great posting.

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