Through the Struggle, Lead On

It’s hard work to stay positive.
But in order to stay positive, you have to first be positive.

And that’s a choice. Every. Single. Day.

So, how is that choice made? Especially during a time where nearly everything we’re used to isn’t the way we’re used to?

Three suggestions:

1. Remember that while God’s a lot of things, surprised isn’t one of them.

It takes faith, of course, but believing that nothing ever sneaks up on God is a good first step to a healthy perspective during trouble.

Let’s face it. Hard times are, well, hard. And here’s the crazy part, they cause both Christians and cynics to wonder the same thing, “Why does God allow this to happen?” A fascinating question. But don’t miss it. It’s a question that actually presupposes his awareness of everything. And if he knows all, even before it actually happens, it’s also a good chance that a God that powerful knows why things happen.
His viewpoint is vertical. Ours, horizontal.

Here’s the kicker though. Nothing obligates him to tell us the Why about anything, but knowing a bit about the Who while we go through the What, waiting for the When has a way of calming fears and adjusting our focus.

It’s true. This stinks. But God knows about this. More than we do. Answers or not, let’s trust him.

“O LORD, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.”
– Psalm 139:1-3

2. Remember, history isn’t the only thing being made.

Here’s the bottom line. This isn’t all there is. Even this.
It’s awful and frustrating and scary, and we wish it’d hurry up and get over.
But when Jesus rose from the dead, hope was born. For the first time, an anticipation of living beyond the messiness of this life became valid.
For those who follow Jesus, our hope for getting through this isn’t just tied to getting through this. But realizing that there’s coming a day when pandemic will lose its meaning. Trouble will be retired. And death itself, rendered obsolete.
Heaven is real. And weakness and fear and struggle and COVID-19 will be denied entrance.
Take heart. There’s more life ahead.

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.
In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”
– John 14:1-3

3. There’s more happening than we can see.

This one’s probably the hardest. But the most significant. Because it deals with internal stuff, that nobody else observes. Including us. Unless we’re looking for it. And then, it’s obvious.

Here’s a fact: there are some things that are only produced through struggle.
Another fact: while we experience this moment, and we all are, not everyone will realize what’s internally possible.
Some lessons are unimaginably hard, and yet produce growth achieved no other way.

Spiritual steadiness.
Increased patience.
Humble confidence.
Greater trust.

They’re all possible.
And made possible going through stuff we’d rather avoid.

But those in pain, who call it what it is, but then look beyond the discomfort, see things greater. And process things better.
And discover something both ironic and undeniable. Joy. Whose source can only be One greater than the pain.

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
– James 1:2-4

To the God who sees all, thank you.
To the God who knows all, thank you.
And to the God who loves all, sustains all, and one day will greet us all, thank you.
Through the struggle, lead on.

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