This picture. Taken on a day full of joy and promise and victory in the fact that God had heard our prayers, answered our cry and taken us back to the city we felt so called to. Who knew, God would have delivered every promise we prayed walking around that jar of sand. He delivered the city, the neighborhood, the house, the above and the beyond.
A joyous day it was. Who knew that just a few months later we would run into Struggle. Who really knows what tomorrow will bring, but we tend to still be surprised when trouble comes even though the Word promises it.
Who knew that we would be clinging to the Word and His promises like never before in our Christian walk with God. Who knew that we would begin to feel the thorn in our side so quickly after such a few months of sheer celebration.
God did. He knew everything that would come. Every struggle. Every disruption. Every hinderance. And every element of bad news.
I don’t have to disclose the details of what our family is walking through, for you to understand what Struggle feels like. You know.
To feel that throbbing thorn in your side. You want so desperately to remove it, to take it upon yourself even for someone else’s sake or to just see it go away. You want and plead for an easy fix, a healing, a removal or another day you can wake up and find that it was all a dream, never really happening so that you can go on about your day.
But the truth is, the struggle deepens us. Miracles are an overflow and fill our hearts to thankfulness. But the struggles carve and dig at our hearts, exposing all of our flaws and many facets we like to keep to ourselves. Struggles threaten our comfort and stretch us beyond what we feel capable of, but have the opportunity to point us to the most valuable Source of all. The thorn of struggle digs deep and often hits like a blow in the belly when we least expect it. But it’s usually not an instant removal. If the thorn were pulled out too quickly, it would leave a puncture wound and we would bleed out. But a slow removal, allows us to heal piece by piece. One small step at a time. To fix the broken places and create new wells in our beings that will hold new things God has for us. He never carves out new places without giving us fresh breath to fill them.
Struggles refine our heart. Day by day as we feel that wound, we begin to understand what He is trying to do. He begins to love us in a way that one can only receive when they are truly desperate for a Saviour.
Struggles deepen our trust. As we lose more and more control over our desperate situation, we then find ourselves in a posture of surrender. This is when He will begin to speak like only open arms and ears can hear.
Struggles expose our faith. Struggles have the ability to show the world that with Jesus, all things are possible. It’s not by our ability to perform, or to preach, or to sing, or to have it all together that shows the world His strength. It’s when someone who loves Jesus walks through a struggle, still loving Jesus that we give Him the power to do what it is that He wants to do.
We may cry, but we worship. We may ask why, but we trust. We may get angry, but we surrender. We may get overwhelmed, but we pray. We may completely fall apart on the outside, but we willing hand over our hearts to be shaped and remolded by the One who made us.
It is then, that we can begin to come out on the other side of the struggle and say to others…
“if you only knew.”
If you only knew how Great my God is. If you only knew how He used my struggle for something I couldn’t see. If you only knew how my God could see the perfect outcome to a story I couldn’t understand. If you only knew how much stronger I am because of the struggle. If you only knew the good plans, my God had for me.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ~Jeremiah 29:11
This is why we relate to the story of Jesus so well. Jesus knew struggle. We find perspective in His suffering on the cross. We find hope in the peace He carried while nailed to that tree. We find inspiration in the forgiveness he displayed for those that had hurt him most. We find courage in His resurrection and find freedom in His promise that we will get the final say. The Victory is Ours for all who believe.