There’s a saying that we have within my church community where we want people to be able to “struggle well” in their life with God. None of us are blind to the fact that this life is filled with obstacles and difficulties that come our way. Because of the battles we face and all the obstacles in our way, we have to be alert and aware of them. We are warned to stay alert. Warfare and attack is a very real thing that is in front of those that choose to walk with God. The Enemy is always out to take us out in someway to get us to not trust the heart of God and choose our false-self. This is reality, this is fact.
Now, that being said, John Eldredge and the Ransomed Heart team, recently put out a podcast series they called “What’s Going On?” (Click here to go their Podcast page) They opened up something to me that was frontier to me and yet, also was right in front of me and but I never could name it. To give a quick summary, the thought is that all of the struggles that we all face as believers quite possibly, something more than we think. Often times, the quick answer for a believer is, this is warfare. This is spiritual attack.
The conversation in this podcast, however, opened my eyes to something. That is the idea and belief that many of the struggles we face is God pressing on the accelerator, if you will, to grow us and train us. That God is hastening our spiritual growth and maturity and uses the struggles and battles for that purpose. This really got me thinking to all of the things so many of those around me are facing and the struggles I have personally faced. Then when I look back, I can see how growth has happened as a result.
So think about this. Think about the things you’re facing right now. What do you think God is doing in that? Can you see how He is actually trying to grow and mature you? In the book I’m currently reading, The Heart of a Warrior by Michael Thompson, he talks about the God training us up as warriors into a deeper life with Him. So in reading that and listening to this conversation, this idea of training keeps resurfacing. I think there’s something to this.
Let’s take a look at Scripture. All through the Bible you see training taking place. Look at the life of Paul. Following his conversion, he is put through the ringer all in the process of growing more Christ like and ready to reach more and more of the the Gentile world with the Gospel. Richard Rohr paraphrase what Paul wrote in Philippians 4:12-13. We all know verse 13, which is often quoted, “I can do all things in Christ, who gives me strength.
Richard Rohr’s paraphrase goes as follows, “Now that I have been through my initiation, I am ready. For anything. Anywhere.” Paul when through significant initiation. He was shipwrecked, stoned, jailed, and so much more. All of his struggles were a beautiful part of his growth and initiation.
Today, we are faced with a great deal of struggle and suffering in our lives from number of angles. In our careers, our family lives, with friends, the loss of loved ones, and so much more. I want you to do some introspective in your life and look at some of your toughest battles. Things that seemed to derail you in the moment. Then look at how you may have grown from that situation. Ask God to show you what He was or is doing in that?
There’s no doubt that the enemy is waiting for his next opportunity to pounce. When trouble comes, that is the moment of testing of whether we will press further into God or open the doorway for greater destruction. So take some time to think about this, in your own life. The with God life brings with it, so much beauty and at the same time there is still a great deal of struggle in it. But the struggle is beautiful when we allow it to lead to a deeper life with God.
As we are warned, watch-out and be alert. Also, learn at the same time, what God may be up to when he allows the difficulty and trials to come. Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 4:8, ““Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” Remember that God is still training us. We’re not finished yet. This training takes a lifetime, but the hope and glory beyond that in the Kingdom is going to be well worth it.