Struggle is Coming
Struggle is a part of life. The longer you live, the more struggles you endure. Sometimes we bring the struggle on ourselves through a variety means, and other times we find ourselves in a struggle as result of someone else's decision or the environment we're in. Chances are, you'll be in a struggle of each type at some point in your life.
And how do you respond when that struggle comes? The natural tendency for most people is to react to a struggle instead of executing a proactive strategy. That's right. You can actually have a strategy for the different struggles you encounter which will get you through the darkest of valleys. Without one, you might find yourself sinking instead of swimming. So, here are three keys you need to develop a solid, winning strategy for every struggle!
# 1 - Submit to God
That's not our first instinct. Our first instinct is to do what first comes to our minds. If you lose your job, the first thing which might come to your mind is to react with anger or despair, not to toss up a prayer to God. If your kid is in a difficult season where they're really rebellious, you may be inclined to react by enacting harsher punishments or yelling or even giving in. I bet it's not to tell God, "Johnny is killing me. God, you gotta help me. What do I do?"
Our main problem is we think we know best. It's like driving in a round-a-bout. No one knows how to drive in these things, at least in the Deep South. it's worse when they have two-lanes. No one has a clue how to drive in these properly, except for you, right? Of course you know how to drive correctly in round-a-bouts!
The key to driving correctly in a round-a-bout is to know when and how to yield to the other drivers. And the key to developing a strategy for the struggle hinges on your ability to know when and how to yield to God. Give Him your burdens, your pain, your frustrations, your anger, your despair - and follow His lead!
#2 - Develop Staying Power
One of the biggest temptations in any struggle is the temptation to quit. There’s something about staying in the middle of difficult seasons and circumstances. When the struggle hits, that’s not the time to hit “eject” on the promise God has for your life, it’s the time to press in even further! You’ve gotta be faithful in the struggle. You’ve gotta have the attitude, “Come Hell or high water, I’m sticking with it.” On the days it’s easy, you’re sticking with it. On the days it’s hard, you’re sticking with it.
And there comes a time where you have to decide - am I going to believe what I'm seeing in this struggle, or what God has said? All you can see in a struggle is opposition, impossibilities, dead ends. But, if God has promised to never leave you, if He's promised to care for you, if He's promised to empower you - then, get some grit and stay! Struggles aren't overcome by quitting, they're overcome by sheer grit and determination. That only comes when you develop staying power.
#3 - Serve
So often we make the struggles we're facing all about ourselves. It's completely counter-intuitive to serve someone else as you are battling a struggle of your own. As you serve others though, your service gives way to hope and fulfillment. And in the middle of your service, you may find exactly what you need to overcome your own struggle.
In Genesis there is a powerful story about a man named Joseph. He's abandoned by his brothers who sell him in slavery to Egypt. He's imprisoned for a wrong he didn't commit. And yet, he finds himself the Prime Minister of Egypt, only Pharaoh is greater in authority than him. As Joseph is serving Pharaoh, it leads him to an encounter with his brothers who don't recognize who he is. All these years of pain, struggling with the deep emotional and spiritual scars left from being sold as a slave by his family - they haven't gone away. But this opportunity to serve Pharaoh leads to that encounter with his brothers which eventually leads to Joseph's forgiveness and the greatest family reunion story in history up to that point. In serving Pharaoh, Joseph found what he needed to overcome his own struggle.
The same can be true for you if you'll put others first and serve.
Submit to God, develop staying power, and serve. Those three keys can help you develop a solid strategy for the struggle you face! No matter what dark valley you walk into, remember to surrender to God! Let Him lead! When it gets tough and you want to quit, develop grit and stay. And when you're tempted to make it about you, serve. You never know, you just may discover what you need to overcome your struggle in the process!