God is Bigger than My Struggle
I'm almost two decades old. I'm attending college halfway across the country from the place I call home. After a year and a half here, I'm still not entirely sure of my ability to instantaneously make friends with people. Sometimes I think "if only" I had chosen to remain close to home, close to friends, or close to everything I once knew as day-to-day life. I miss the joyful times with friends you can talk to about anything and the fun memories made during all the bus rides, car trips, and visits. Oftentimes, I re-think the decision I made to come to Liberty University. And yet, even through days filled with loneliness and struggles, I know that this is where God has me.
I don't think I'm the best qualified candidate to be sharing about my life, but I also don't think God would give me a desire to write without giving me a purpose for it. So whatever that purpose is, I am obeying the repeated feeling that I'm supposed to write about my struggles.
It's hard for me to admit that I'm struggling, especially when it involves me telling it to someone face-to-face. So instead I write; about life, about God, about lessons I've learned and mistakes I've made. I write because I can word and reword, phrase and rephrase until I've said exactly what I mean to say and pondered my thoughts long enough to realize that maybe they're worth sharing with someone who needs encouragement or hope.
Struggles exist. It's unavoidable to at some point in your life avoid the struggle of glorifying God or fulfilling your own desires and dreams, the struggle of trusting God has a plan or following your own plan, the struggle of living in the truth that God has redeemed you or wallowing in the pity of a life full of mistakes and failure. But as Christians, the existence of struggles doesn't mean we have to admit defeat and allow the difficulty to get the best of us.
I've never felt the want to quit as much as I have this year- the classes, homework, doubts, challenges, and standards I set for myself academically. It hasn't been easy, but it doesn't warrant giving up. At the same time, I am learning that perfection is not required of me-the highest standards I make myself attain are not a life-or-death situation should I fail to meet them. I am learning that God requires our best from us; I have also been thinking about what constitutes our best? When I faced these challenges this year, I almost feel as if the standards I place upon myself are more stringent that the standards God has redeemed me to strive for. But is it possible for an imperfect human being to hold themselves to a higher standard than a perfect God who created me in His image holds me to?
Detour with me for a moment: In Romans 7, Paul talks about the Law and Sin (vs. 7-25) and leads into chapter 8, in which he writes about Life Through the Spirit. Chapter 8 verse 12-13 stood out to me: "Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation-but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live." I think it is interesting here that "obligation" is used. (Granted, the version of the Bible I am using is NIV, and thereby maybe not the most direct translation of the original word.) When we accept Christ as Lord and Savior and declare by faith that we believe in God, we are then obligated to live according to the Spirit. This has been one of my greatest struggles. Am I continually choosing to live according to the Spirit and have my mind "set on what the Spirit desires (8:5)?" Am I allowing my mind to be "governed by the Spirit" for "life and peace (8:6)?"
The reality is, struggles will always be present as long as we live in this world.
The struggle of knowing whether or not to say something when an inappropriate joke is made.
The struggle of finding out what the balance between work and rest is.
The struggle of choosing to follow the crowd or be a quiet bystander when part of me wants to join in with them.
The struggle of feeling like the person God made me is not good enough for others.
The struggle of wondering if what I believe is right will ever be understood by my peers.
The struggle of not beating myself up over making a mistake because God will still love me, pick me up, and extend grace.
The struggle of allowing mistakes and failures burden me with a load Jesus bore for me on the cross.
The struggle is real, but so is God.
And God extends grace for the times I fail to stand up for what is right.
God exemplifies the balance between work and rest, in the first book of the Bible.
God grants courage for the times I am the bystander, looking from the outside in.
God reminds me of my value in the times of feeling inferior or not good enough.
God remains faithful in showing me that standing up for what I believe is right is noticed and appreciated.
God allows times of mistakes, to teach me that I can't live this life on my own strength.
God relieves me of my burden, because he sent His only Son to die on the cross, be buried, and rise again, putting my mistakes and failures on His shoulders, and presenting me with the gift of eternal life through faith.
And because of this, I have confidence. Confidence that one day, I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living (Psalm 27:13). Confidence that struggle will one day be no more. Confidence that God's faithfulness will never end. Confidence that no matter where I am, God will meet me where I am, pick me up, dust me off, and wrap me in His grace for the simple reason that He is love.
The struggle is real, but so is God.