This last year has been such a whirlwind for me. First we were so hopeful as Mark left the military after 13 years of service, but rejection after rejection of job applications due to him being “overqualified” and “too educated” left a mark of hopelessness.
Have you ever felt that way? Like all your past efforts and successes have suddenly counted as nothing to a world that apparently cannot figure out how to fit you in as a worthy member?
Not many people have, but we have met veteran after veteran struggling and suffering with the same ailment: a society that cannot figure out how to turn the excellent experience that many military members have into a valuable addition to the workforce.
Does “Believing God” Mean Never Struggling?
I have struggled this year with the struggle of our reality. Watching our bank account dwindle time and time again, even while doing all we know to do to bring in some income.
As a person who has been told repeatedly that I have a “gift of faith,” I often felt quite weak in faith as I have felt the conditions of our situation non-stop. My heart’s constant prayer has been, “Abba, give him a job! Come through for us. Provide for this need to be a needed, contributing, and valuable member of society.”
It is a horrible feeling to want to work and be told that you “won’t be happy here” because you’re too educated, experienced, or whatever.
Some people think that if you just pray harder, things will come together. Some people think that if you try more, success is just around the corner. Others might say that it’s simply a matter of “right place, right time.” To all of this, I have no idea, except to think that if it were all in our hands to bring these pieces together, we are apparently just simple failures in this life.
But, I can’t think that way. I have to choose to trust God in the face of what seems hopeless to believe that He will come through for us in His perfect timing. [Tweet “I have to choose to trust God in the face of what seems hopeless…that He will come through…”] I have to believe that God knows what we need, and that even this season has been purposeful for us, long, dry, and difficult as it has been.
I have to believe that our struggles have been for a purpose, but not a reflection of some greater spiritual issue as some might believe.
What have I learned about struggles? Through these struggles I have learned empathy and compassion for the poor like never before. For all intensive purposes, we are impoverished, but we have not gone hungry, nor lacked basic provisions in this time.
I have learned that God provides for our NEEDS, but not always for our wants. I have learned that the members of the Body, who act in accordance with His prompting, have blessed us in times of need over and over again. I have learned that prayers are answered, but usually in unexpected ways.
I have learned that in my times of greatest struggle, I have not needed to do much more than simply look to Him for strength and hope, even in the face of enormous fear. I have learned that “when I am weak, He is strong” (2 Cor. 12: 10). I have learned that “I can do nothing apart from God” (John 15: 5).
I have also learned how prone to fear I am. I have learned that what I thought was strength before was not true strength, but simply comfort with a life that felt secure and protected due to its circumstances. I have learned that this is not true “faith” or belief, but the kind of faith that waivers quickly when struggles come and troubles surface. It is a faith built on man-made understanding of security and provision, not founded on a deep and constant following after the Lord’s guidance, provision, and eternal security aside from circumstances.
I have related to Paul’s words this year like never, ever before: “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty…I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:12-13).
I have learned that faith is made resolute through seasons of trial and difficulty. It is only through intense pressure and heat that a diamond comes forth from rock. [Tweet “…Faith is made resolute through trials. It is only thru intense pressure that a diamond emerges from rock.”] It is only through constant friction and grinding that a pearl emerges from an oyster.
Contrary to popular belief, suffering and struggles have been part of walking with God since before Christ even came to be. They have always been a part of learning to follow God as a self-sacrificing servant. Suffering is not necessarily a sign of having done something to upset or disappoint God that has brought His wrath or judgment. For His followers, His judgment is nothing to be feared, since following after Christ means being freed from that inevitability for those who follow self. We are free from the Law of Sin and Death. Praise the Lord!
This does not mean, however, that we are free from the burdens of the fallen world and the realities of suffering that come along with it. Suffering happens. Terrible things happen. Death and destruction happen, but when we turn our eyes up to the Lord and seek Him with all our hearts we will feel His amazing peace that surpasses all understanding. Suffering while walking hand-in-hand with God is one of the most life-altering experiences one could ever have.
If you, too, are experiencing a season of struggles and suffering, take heart. The Lord sees you and knows your needs. I do not know when things will come together, or how, but I do know that God has a purpose for it all, even the times that seem to make no sense. Continue to turn to Him in faith and trust, one step at a time if needed. He understands and is deeply patient with His beloved children, even though we are so hard on ourselves. Stand firm in Him and His power alone, not in what the world promotes for you to do to get yourself out of your troubles. He is faithful. He is strong. He will come through in His perfect timing.
For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.” (1 Cor. 2: 2-5)