Of course it is. It is right and just to experience struggles during our lifetime. It is also expected. But… WE ALL HATE TO STRUGGLE!!
We often try to avoid hardships in our life believing that somehow this will make life better, more “worth living”. Or, perhaps, we just don’t believe that “it is fair” if we have to struggle in and through our life. Or even simpler than that, we just don’t want to deal with it! Thus, we often avoid doing things that require or may produce a struggle. We even try to deny our children the opportunity to grow through struggles in their own lives by doing everything possible to create a hyper sense of “safety” and “comfort” for them. [Now I am not advocating the 180 degree approach here – i.e. purposefully creating or forcing struggles upon our children in misguided belief that this will “make them stronger!!”. No. But keep reading…]
The problem is, that if we don’t recognize the purpose of struggle/strife in our life, we will miss the importance it plays in the life of ALL people. For you see, Strength is often built during our struggles. Perspective is often refined in our struggles. Appreciation grows in our struggles. Patience can often develop in our struggles. We are often purified through our struggles. Compassion can readily take root in our hearts when we have learned to understand our struggles and in turn, the struggle of others.
Ask yourself these questions: If our muscles don’t struggle when we exercise, how will they grow stronger? If our children don’t struggle in their formative years, how will they learn to get along in this world (especially once we are gone)? If our brains don’t struggle a bit while we are seeking to learn, what will drive our learning – mere curiosity? If we don’t struggle in our work/jobs, how will we truly appreciate what results from a job well done and hard-fought? If we don’t struggle in our life, how can we serve as a shoulder to lean on when others need comfort in their struggles?
Some of you might be thinking: “Wait a minute, this all sounds well and good, BUT not all struggles are the same or of similar degree…“. This is indeed true. However, we are also not all equipped the same way to deal with the various types and magnitudes of struggle. Hence, to try to compare one situation to another, or even one person’s ability to cope with another’s, is a meaningless exercise.
The point is that there is a refining process that works in each and every one of us when we are pulled through the winding road of conflict, setbacks, disappointments, unexpected hurdles, etc, etc = struggle! Plus, having hardships in our life is part of the human condition – it has been present throughout humanity for all people. It is inevitable.
Let me leave you with these poignant words of encouragement:
“We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed and broken. We are perplexed, but we don’t give up and quit. We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going. Through suffering, these bodies of ours constantly share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.” – 2 Corinthians 4:8-10 (NLT)
Well, more to come in subsequent posts…