We struggle almost every day. Perhaps I speak as a 20-something, but you get what I mean. Sometimes it feels as though the world conspires to go against you in everything and our dreams and desires come crashing down. Sylvia Plath rightly claims:
Life has been some combination of fairy-tale coincidence and joie de vivre and shocks of beauty together with some hurtful self-questioning.
Perhaps we also owe it to PMS for a few of the more intense bouts of feeling, because it seems completely valid to dwell on them!
Of late, life (at 24 . . . I know, I know) seems to be getting harder each day. Being a woman, things seem to keep changing faces constantly and come unexpectedly with “trouble” written on their foreheads – from relationships, to family, to single-hood, to marriage, to work . . . the list goes on and on. (I don’t mean this to say men have less things to worry about, I am merely speaking from my own perspective.)
Troubles that once seemed so far away are now suddenly parading the streets outside my window, and come knocking at the door almost as if to break it down. Indifference kicks in as an automatic defense mechanism, knowing no other way to deal with this looming cloud of darkness. The sense that life couldn’t get any harder than this tugs at my sanity, it even sours my relationships with others, and that must be avoided at all costs!
I love order - I enjoy management and keeping things going in a perfect manner as planned. But life throws a wrench in the works and I find myself completely lost, struck with a mixture of emotions – everything at the same time!
But having said this, it reminds me of something Tim Keller once said:
Nothing is more important than to learn how to maintain a life of purpose in the midst of painful adversity.
So how do I maintain a life of purpose amid troubles that seem endless?
I've learned the best place to start is reading the Word and breathing a word of prayer. 2 Corinthians 4:7, 8:
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
Even through tears, reading this fills me with joy and peace and I am completely overwhelmed!
I am not crushed, nor am I driven to despair amid perplexities, troubles and being struck down as if never to get back up. No matter how many times I am beaten up and crushed both in spirit and soul, I am not destroyed even if it does feel like it most of the time. I revel in this truth and hope that He gives. His promises are true. Even in moments like these when fear takes over, I know God is in control. He commands us “not to fear.” What/whom, then, shall I fear, when the God of angel armies is by my side?
Paul suffered immensely, but God’s grace is sufficient to drive him to call his troubles “light” and “momentary.” His Grace far outweighs my troubles and fear that I dwell on constantly. It must cause thanksgiving to overflow instead.
Do we praise God enough in our troubles that seem endless?
Trust is accepting what God sends into your life whether you understand it or not.
I don’t claim to know everything, nor say my troubles have all vanished in an instant. But despite dark clouds still over my head, I can confidently say that I trust in the God I serve and believe in. He knows my needs, my desires, and my life is mapped out in His great plan. I need a heart that obeys Him in an openness of faith where I will be able to do what He tells me even if I don’t want to. Only His Grace can accomplish that!
CS Lewis puts it so aptly:
. . . the almost impossible thing, is to hand over your whole self to Christ. But it is far easier than what we are all trying to do instead.
It still leaves me in tears and and I still struggle to say, “Lord, give me grace and obedience to get through this today.” But I choose to believe that adversity is a fire that refines, beautifies and strengthens my soul. I have not lost heart because we are renewed inwardly every day. Even when we don’t know everything, we must choose to listen and obey.
God doesn’t always make His will clear because He values our being transformed more than our being informed.
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