Several months ago, while dropping off one of my daughter’s friends, I heard from the backseat, Strugggulll! Apparently she was having difficulty unlatching her seatbelt. A few weeks later I heard her say, The struggle is real!
Curious, I asked my girls about it. Because really, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a teenager use that word on a regular basis before. And, yes—it is part of current, urban vernacular. It and every nuance of the word: strug, struggs—even strugfest.
You know what? That struggle? You bet it’s real. It’s real for every one of us.
Lately, I’ve had more than one friend deeply concerned about the struggles they are enduring—to the point of tears. Fearing they might make the wrong decision. Wondering if God is trying to “teach them a lesson.”
Since I do not know the mind of God, I certainly can’t answer those questions with certainty. And, I’ve learned the hard way, it’s not my place to do so.
There are a few things I can say, though …
If you are truly concerned that your struggle is a result of sin, go before the Father and ask Him.
If it is, the Holy Spirit will convict you, and you will know it. The Lord doesn’t play games with this. Then you can do what’s necessary to get back in step with the Lord.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 NIV)
We may have some residual consequences to deal with, but our fellowship with the Lord is restored and we can move forward in faith. 🙂
It’s just the way it is.
After telling His disciples about His impending death, Jesus told them that in this world, they would have trouble. We live in a broken world with broken things all around us. We can, however, experience peace in the midst of our struggles.
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16:33 NIV)
Some struggles are suffering that God allows us to participate in.
In fact, Paul told the Philippians that experiencing suffering for the cause of Christ is a gift. It’s not a gift many of us want, but it is a privilege nonetheless.
For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. (Philippians 1:27)
Over all of these, the process of our very real struggles, produces strong character and refines our faith.
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. (Romans 5:3-4 NIV)
So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. (1 Peter 1:6-7)
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect [mature] and complete, needing nothing. (James 1:2-4
Easier said than done.
The night after I began writing this, as I lay on my pillow, the Lord showed me how I was responding to my own struggle.
For a multitude of reasons, I haven’t had my own car to drive for almost three weeks. I brilliantly backed into a parked car. (It takes skill to do that!) A week later, my water pump went out. Getting it repaired has been significantly delayed due to all of the other cars that were damaged in the Texas floods from last month. I’m at the end of a very, long line.
Just when I thought things were about to work out, boom! They weren’t. I found myself in tears in front of a stern Service Advisor who was not telling me what I wanted to hear regarding a loaner car. (This is beginning to feel familiar. I was Displaced and Distressed a couple of months ago. Maybe I should be asking myself the same question my friends are asking themselves.)
Same Song–Second Verse
This time I am displaced from my SUV. How am I to view this situation?
Of course, I recognize that the struggle is real! Certainly, one situation was avoidable; one was not. I should have looked behind me more carefully when I was backing up. But I had no control over when and where my water pump would go out. The struggle hasn’t so much been over my car, but the many times we’ve had to pay out-of-pocket for a rental, when my vehicle is still under warranty. But the bottom line is …
I had a car to drive when I needed one to drive.
- One time it was a super sweet ride that allowed me to haul a ton of teens wherever we needed to go.
- Another time it was my husband’s super, cool car; but it was a standard shift that I drove on the freeway in torrential rains. The end of that drive? My sister whom I hadn’t seen in 18 months. Totally worth the stress.
- Although sometimes a tight fit, I was always able to carry guard equipment back forth to rehearsal for my girls.
- The days I didn’t have a car were very peaceful at home. When I wanted to go somewhere, friends came and got me. 🙂
Each day was a gift.
Yes! I miss my car. Soon she will be back in my driveway where she belongs.
Before that, though, I will be behind the wheel of one. more. rental. (Hopefully this one will be covered by our warranty!). If, for some unexpected reason, it is not, this has given me the opportunity to pause and consider how I will respond to that news. It’s certainly ok to be frustrated when things don’t go the way we hope them to. But what I do with my frustration makes all the difference.
The struggle is real! But with God, we can overcome
You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. (1 John 4:4 NIV)
Usually a Tuesday post, but this week, The struggle is real!
Mary Alice says
Thank you, Dianne. I needed to read these words, “…but take heart, I have overcome the world.” Soothed my soul and brought me to tears. Thank you for reminding me of this promise from my Savior.
Also, I love it that you are trying to keep up with current vernacular. THAT struggle IS real! 🙂
Dianne Thornton says
You’re so cute, MA. Yes, our Savior has overcome! The only way we make it. *hugs*
Kamea Hope says
I love the response you gave your friends, that if they wondered if God might be displeased, that they seek Him for an answer. While I don’t believe, by any means, that God is out to punish us, He certainly does allow consequences for our sinful actions, at times. There is such a balance to be found here. He is a God of love, and yet we are told that a Father disciplines those He loves. We can go too far in either direction if we are not careful.
Great post, Dianne! We need to keep the right perspective in our struggles! Jesus has overcome!
Dear Diane! I can feel your frustration! Life does get in the way sometimes, but you have to admit the Lord provided! Sometimes He has a sense of humor just to see our reaction. Pat yourself on the shoulder. You took it like a trooper!