When I find myself exhausted during a long run, it’s easy for me to concentrate on how tired and weak I feel. If I stayed in that mindset, however, I would probably find myself defeated. I have to change my thoughts in order to find the strength to keep going. I need to remind myself to breathe and to persevere. I tell myself that pushing through the pain will be worth it.
It is during these difficult moments that I develop the most strength as a runner, and the same is true in life. Learning to endure during a difficult run is very similar to enduring through life’s struggles. If life was never difficult, we wouldn’t have the opportunity for growth.
We usually learn more through our struggles than we do in the good times.
We all endure trials. It’s easy to feel like you’re the only one struggling or that your struggles are somehow more difficult than the struggles of others. The truth, however, is that every person on this planet endures tough times. We all have a story to tell when it comes to the battles life has thrown our way.
“…Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33 (NLT)
Many feel that God would never allow us to struggle beyond what we can endure. The truth is, however, that God never made that promise. In fact, the Bible is pretty clear that our struggles may actually increase when we begin our walk with God.
Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world. – 1 Peter 4:12-13 (NLT)
1) Our struggles help to strengthen us and build endurance.
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. – James 1:2-4 (NLT)
2) Our struggles draw us closer to God.
Pastor Rick Warren wrote, “God could have kept Joseph out of jail, kept Daniel out of the lion’s den, kept Jeremiah from being tossed into a slimy pit, kept Paul from being shipwrecked three times, and kept the three Hebrew young men from being thrown into the blazing furnace, but He didn’t. He let those problems happen, and each of those people were drawn closer to God as a result. Problems force us to look to God and depend on Him instead of ourselves.”
God never promised a life without difficulties. The truth is that our struggles will almost always be more than we can handle on our own. God allows these kinds of trials in our lives so that we have the opportunity to lean on Him. It’s much easier to recognize our need for Him when we actually have a need!
We are told throughout the New Testament that not only should we expect struggles in this life, but we should learn to actually rejoice in them. I know this is often easier said than done. The last thing we want to do when struggling through life is be happy about it. Remember, however, that Jesus knows what you’re going through. As cliché as that sounds, it’s true.
Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested. – Hebrews 2:18 (NLT)
Just as “life” never promised to give you only what you can handle, it also never promised to help you endure through your struggles. Only God has made that promise. Not only does He promise to help you endure, but He also promised you a victorious life in Christ.
Pushing through the pain isn’t just about enduring life’s struggles; it’s about finding victory in them.
When we allow our struggles to draw us closer to God, we also allow Him to build us up. We will be strong and victorious because of His strength, not our own. The Bible tells us that He who is in us (the Holy Spirit) is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4). We will always find victory when we rely on Him to strengthen us!
So instead of focusing on your struggles and how much you can handle, learn to see your struggles as an opportunity for God to work. Go to Him in prayer, place your trust in His strength to sustain you, and watch Him move in your life. It all comes down to your mindset. Will you focus on how tired and exhausted you are? Or will you change your mentality and allow God to bring you the victory?
I believe with all my heart that when we look back our lives, we won’t see the struggles…rather we will see the victories.