“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Romans 5:3-5).

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Struggle is a part of living in a fallen world, and none of us is beyond trouble’s grasp, Christian and non-Christian, alike. I don’t know necessarily how or when or even if God sends struggles our way; to be perfectly honest, it’s not a question I plan on losing any sleep contemplating, but I do know, with certainty, that God uses our struggles for our good as well as for His glory. “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Romans 5:3-5).

I have been thinking about the scripture from Luke I shared in my previous post Be at Peace. “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap. For it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:34-36).  First it started out as a few weeks, then a few weeks turned into a few months, then a few months turned into a year or more. Anxiety and depression crept up on me; this has been among the darkest and loneliest seasons yet, but the season appears to be coming to an end, and I am better for enduring the trial. Carousing and drunkenness weren’t a problem; those would have been obvious sins to me, but the anxieties of life, on the other hand, are deceptive and treacherous and may be even more sinister. No wonder Jesus includes them in His warning. Thankfully, God is in control, God has a plan, and nothing happens without His consent. Therefore, I may rest in God’s sovereignty, for God’s sovereignty not only gives me freedom to operate in His blessing, but also shows me compassion in my temporal frailty. Savor this mystery in Jesus Christ, because this one, is pretty amazing. “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).

Anytime I pray about my own struggles, or those of others, I claim Christ’s victory, but I realize that continuing to walk in the struggle may be part of that victory; therefore, I’m not going to become all that distressed if an infliction doesn’t immediately leave my body, or if the money I might need doesn’t inexplicably appear in my bank account; it doesn’t mean that my prayer was defective or that my faith is weak, despite what some may erroneously suggest. I have found that all those storms serve a divine purpose, even the self inflicted ones. So, much to the dismay of the enemy, who would have us believe that we are already defeated, the prophet Isaiah expands from the fall of the king of Babylon to the fall of the one who energized him, Satan: “Those who see you stare at you, they ponder your fate: ‘Is this the man who shook the earth and made kingdoms tremble, the man who made the world a wilderness, who overthrew its cities and would not let his captives go home?’” (14:16-17). Go in peace.

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