Struggle

We struggle with zippers.
We struggle with explanations of the world’s complexities.
We struggle to make ends meet.
We struggle to find the right word.

We struggle with a lot of things, some important, some trivial. Daily, we struggle with things that are just always tough, like opening a new jar of pickles or choosing the right checkout line. Sometimes we choose a struggle because we are looking for a challenge like a word puzzle or a chess match. We all struggle with relationships, because people are always changing (hopefully growing) and we have to learn to adapt to the new person they are.

Sometimes these struggles are seen as everyday events rather than struggles because we are adept at handling them. Some people are so capable that they seem to breeze through life never struggling with anything. Others only appear to breeze through life as they hide their struggles.

But my thoughts today are about those who choose to never struggle, those who flit through life facing no challenges, mounting no obstacles. These are the lives that are never examined, never purposed. These are the people that mindlessly fill their hours with entertainment yet are constantly bored. They have never considered the possibility of a greater life or a satisfying joy.

Jesus calls us to greater life and satisfying joy. In his first recorded speech, he described the blessed life (Matthew 5:3-12). He spoke on other occasions of “finding life” (Matthew 10:39, 16:25) and having come to earth to give “abundant life” (John 10:10). But, in each of the statements just cited, Jesus also indicated that taking the easy way out will not lead to a rewarding experience. He stressed that the way to find this fulfilling life is to face the challenges of it.

Now, Jesus was giving us more than an observation that life is tough. He was not just talking about the school of hard knocks. We have all learned that dealing with adversity builds character, but Jesus was not considering the adversity that might fall into one’s life. He actually expects his disciples to make choices that are contrary to ease and comfort. Choices like peacemaking, meekness, purity. These choices in themselves give the abundant life to the follower of Jesus.

One of the Matthew 5 statements is that blessed people are in a constant state of hunger, a hunger for righteousness. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Notice: we find a state of contentment by being dissatisfied! That may seem impossible, but it is due to the fact that a person who is truly hungry is always going to be looking for what he needs. So the person hungering for righteousness is always looking for God and the person who is earnestly seeking for God will always find him (Matthew 7:7, “Seek and you will find”).

So the question is are you striving to find righteousness? Do you know a constant need to grow closer to God? Are you accepting this challenge of life and making the choices that are a part of it? The apostle Paul wrote about the war that constantly wages, saying: “we take every thought captive to obey Christ…” (2nd Corinthians 10:5). That is quite a struggle. But it is a struggle we won’t be part of if we don’t make the choice to do so.

Many people that think everything is great in their spiritual lives only think so because they have not opened their eyes: True joy only comes after the struggle. Will you wrestle your thoughts back from worldly control, seek righteousness and find God? That constant search for true life will keep one constantly full of life.

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