Truths You May Have Missed About Struggle in the Christian Life

We had no idea what following Jesus would demand when we started out. Oh, we thought we knew. We had hopes. We had great ideas.

Truths You May Have Missed About Struggle in the Christian Life

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We thought the Christian life meant that once we believed in Jesus, if we walked obediently, certain things would happen:

  • God would bless us
  • Protect us
  • Put us at ease
  • Basically dote on us as His children.

To some extent, we still expect that. But God wants to give us something greater than those things.

Much greater.

Releasing the Christian Life We Want

My uncle has a painting by Bill Hampton hanging in his home. The picture shows a crusty old cowboy, rugged and wrinkled, squinting just past you. The caption at the bottom reveals his thoughts in simple terms:

There were a helluva lot of things they didn’t tell me when I hired on with this outfit.

That cowboy might as well be Peter or John or any of the other disciples.

Or he could be you or me.

One day in Capernaum, Jesus set straight some people who intended to make Him king by force, and He spoke some hard words. Afterwards, many no longer followed Him. Jesus turned to His disciples with a question:

You do not want to leave too, do you? —John 6:67

truths you may have missed

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Peter’s answer reflects the attitude we should have: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). Jesus’ words are hard words—but there are no alternatives.

There cannot be.

Welcome to the Normal Christian Life

Hardship is normal for the Christian life. Peter would later write, “Do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12).

God promises struggles because God shapes us through them. Our growth comes no other way. The Lord wants to give us more than comfort. He wants to give Christlikeness.

Our brief life is the only time in all eternity when we can glorify God in the midst of struggle. (Tweet that.)

Truths Many Miss About Struggle in the Christian Life

But mull these truths over:

  • Have you ever considered struggle as a temporary privilege? (Take the time to read the scene leading up to Acts 5:41.)
  • In heaven, we’ll honor Christ to His face. But now we have the privilege of honoring Him in the face of struggle—by faith, not by sight.
  • Then we’ll glory in His transfiguration. Now we glorify Him beneath the cross we bear . . . and in temptation and weakness (see 2 Cor. 12:7-9).

I’m no masochist, believe me. And yet, I’m eager to honor God during the longest life He will allow me and, while I’m here, to struggle well.

Question: What surprises has the Christian life handed you? To leave a comment, just click here.

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This post is adapted from Wayne’s book, Walking in the Footsteps of Jesus: A Journey Through the Lands and Lessons of Christ.

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  • Daniel White

    Very encouraging, I have never thought about are struggle in life here as a way of honoring him here.
    I feel better thinking as struggle as a temporary privelege that he can use to shape me. Thinking of it that way, I think he may be in the work of shaping me at this momement.

  • Rfranks

    Love reading your blog every time Wayne. Wow! This one was especially encouraging because I’m going through some pretty tricky emotional stuff lately. Never really thought of it exactly like: now’s the only time in all eternity we’ll be able to glorify Him through struggles… Really good stuff as always brother.

    • Thanks, Ray. It sounds so noble that this life is our privilege to suffer for Jesus, but man! Tough assignment. An honor, nevertheless.
      Wayne

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  • Graeme

    Hi Wayne,
    it’s interesting that Paul had learned to be content in all circumstances, considering what he went through. cheers, Graeme

    •  You make a great point, Graeme. “Learning” contentment is a real challenge for us. Maybe that’s why God had Paul write that principle from prison– so that we have little worse to compare ourselves to (Philippians 4:11).

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  • Caleb

    You have no clue how much I needed to read this today. I didn’t even know about this blog before this morning but God had to have had me come across it because He knew that the verses you shared were exactly what He needed to tell me today! Thank you for letting God use as such a powerful instrument!

    • I’m continually amazed, Caleb, at our sovereign God. Thanks for connecting with me and for staying sensitive to God’s voice. I’m grateful my blog played a part in God’s encouragement for you today! God bless.

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  • Wise Teach

    I also needed to read this…. I thought the years of struggle were over, but evidently not. I found myself protesting my current lot… I have done everything “right”, how come the blessing was failing…. but this morning I realized the blessing is HIM. That is the only thing promised. Peace in HIM. There are other verses about restoration and prosperity that I will still cling to… but….”Even tho he may slay me, I will yet worship the Lord”.

    • It is a hard place to be, but you’re making some key observations. And as you say, learning some essential lessons. There is no great faith than your last line—that great quote from Job. Thanks.

  • sarah

    Hi Wayne great blog. What about those people who have suffered all their lives with a sickness or in poverty or are single?

    • Great question, Sarah. When I think about it, we could add quite a few “what abouts” to the list of struggles that seem to contradict God’s goodness or grace. I think the key to healthy thinking in the midst of any struggle is a broader perspective than what we see right now today. Singleness has tremendous advantages in spite of its downsides. And even sickness offers lessons we could glean no other way—as does financial struggle. There are no easy answers, for sure—but whatever the answers, they will require faith. Thanks.

  • Gyng

    Thank you for this! Greetings from a christian struggling with affliction and anxiety, tears streaming down my face as i write this and can say: Amen Amen the Lord Jesus is good! He has saved a wretch like me and after, he does not let go, even when this seems like it.

    • You’re sure welcome, Gyng. And you’re right! He never lets us go. Thanks.

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  • Pray for me?

    “Do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you
    for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you”
    (1 Peter 4:12).
    I’ve been so joyful and connected to love and God… for so long now that I actually began to ask “how long can this possibly last”.. that thought kept coming up recently. Then I found myself facing my worst fear~ that I’ve lost my best friend and the love of my life to a shocking, unexpected death… in the wake of this, his brothers (one who’s been estranged from the family for 30 years) planned to clean my house out of all valuables from the moment he was gone, (they took his truck and personal things immediately through their small-town police friends, though we’ve lived as common-law husband and wife for 7 years).. the woman who had his son 17 years ago , who’s always been an evil, greedy lying manipulator whom I dd my best to avoid, is now teamed up with them… I’ve begun to stand up to them legally (no idea if I’ll lose or win there either)..but it’s turning my heart full of hate when it’s not in total despair… it’s such an attack from all directions… and the loneliness is unbearable… the passage from Peter is so right on… I can’t see any lesson in it now… but it is such a “strange thing” to be attacked by people in numbers after such an unimaginable loss. & Strange is an understatement.

    • I just prayed for you, and I’m so sorry to hear of your truly severe circumstances. Be sure to remain plugged in to your local church for prayer, support, and accountability. It sounds like you need more than legal guidance. After all, “our battle is not against flesh and blood” (Eph. 6).

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