When Struggles Persist

Why is it that we as Christians often struggle so much in resolving problems that enter our lives?  We have the inspired, infallible Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17) replete with eternal wisdom at our disposal, and we have the Holy Spirit Who resides within us to lead us into all truth (John 16:13).  One would think, and it is certainly God’s plan, that with these immeasurable resources we would enjoy the sweetness of victory rather than the bitterness of defeat.  I think there are at least six reasons why that victory escapes us.First, we often tolerate unconfessed sin.  I remember well several years ago in a prayer meeting a man confessed to stealing tools from his employer.  And, I remember well a woman I was counseling who, after trusting Christ, sent a check to a local department store for stealing a pair of gloves twenty years earlier.  Both of these individuals testified to the impediment these unconfessed sins were to their daily living.  The familiar and encouraging truth in 1 John 1:9 brings refreshing deliverance: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”  The Greek word for confess (hŏmŏlŏgĕō) means to speak the same thing or, if you will, to agree with God.  When we do so we have the assurance that we have been completely cleansed and, as well, our unrighteousness is removed from God’s active memory (Psalm 103:12; Isaiah 38:17, 43:25, 44:22; Jeremiah 31:34; Micah 7:19; Hebrews 8:12).  What freedom!

Second, we often tolerate unresolved conflict.  More than we care to admit we knowingly live life day-by-day (often month after month or, even, year after year) fully aware that we have a broken relationship with a brother or sister in Christ.  We suppress the prompting of the Holy Spirit and “put a lid on it,” believing it will subside.  It doesn’t!  Rather, it hampers our daily communion with God and is another impediment to a victorious walk.  Our Lord provides the eternal truth to free us from such conflict in Matthew 5:23-24: “Therefore, if you are offering your gift (i.e., worshipping) at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar.  First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.”  When we seek reconciliation of broken relationships we open up again channels of worship and can once again be fed and receive God’s grace to face the challenges of life.

Third, we often face the pressures of life with untapped resources.  The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write in Colossians 1:25-27, “I have become its (i.e., the church) servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness – the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints.  To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”  Are we consistently hungering for God’s Word?  (Hebrews 4:12)  Do we hide the Word in our hearts?  (Joshua 1:8)  Are we habitually in prayer enjoying the peace that cannot be understood?  (Philippians 4:6-7)  Are we intentionally placing ourselves in fellowship with like-minded believers? (Hebrews 10:24-25)   Do we seek godly counsel?  (Psalm 1:1)  God has given us, His children, all that is necessary to live a joyful life.  Are we tapping into those resources?

Fourth, we often establish unholy priorities.  What is an effective method to measure our commitment to God?  The answer is our priorities!  Where and how does God fit in your life?  Don’t take that measure on a Sunday or at a spiritual retreat; rather, take those measures over time during normal day-to-day living.  If you were a fly on my wall watching me on a daily basis would you conclude God was my first priority?  Or, would you see me giving greater priority to an avocation, or recreational activity, or even to ministry where our priority is more the work of the Lord rather than the Lord of the work!  We would do well to apply Deuteronomy 6:6-9: “These commandments that I give to you today are to be upon your hearts.  Impress them on your children.  Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”  Our relationship with God is to be uncompromisingly our first and foremost priority!  As we pursue Him He has promised to provide victory in the struggles of life. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Fifth, we often embrace unholy alliances.  Those of us who travel out of town away from our families, staying in motels, and exposed to the temptations of the world are particularly vulnerable.  The Holy Spirit teaches us through John that we are not to love the things that are in the world because they are not of the Father (1 John 2:15-17), and by inspiration Paul teaches us, “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.  Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God,…” (Romans 6:12-13)  Samson was dedicated to be a Nazirite and later elevated to be a judge, but he never conquered the giant in his life – lust.  After leading Israel for twenty years he went right back to his old habit and pursued the prostitute, Delilah.  He didn’t even know the Lord had departed from him when Delilah deceived him.  (Judges 16:20)  Contrast Samson with Joseph who left his jacket behind rather than his heart.  (Genesis 39:12)  We cannot effectively face the challenges of life if our affections are toward the world and its deceptive teachings.

Sixth, I must say in closing that some of us who profess being Christian may, in fact, remain unsaved.  It is imperative we examine ourselves to insure we have truly understood our sinfulness, our need for the Savior, and that we have, by faith alone, trusted Jesus Christ and His sacrificial death on the cross for our eternal salvation.  I recall several years ago when two deacons serving in our church realized after many years they were not truly born again.  We can be so easily deceived.  Without the transforming power of regeneration (2 Cor. 5:17) we have no hope to find victory over the inevitable troubles of this world.

Straight Ahead!