Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Knee Deep in the Struggle

Are you in a "struggle"? You know what I mean; you feel like you are pulled in 100 different directions at once and you don't know which struggle is worth the fight and which one is not. Struggles come in all different shapes and sizes. I have a friend who is in a physical struggle with breast cancer. She has small children and struggles with how to effectively treat it in order to have more time with her children. I have another friend who is in an emotional struggle with how to effectively help her aging mother. A sweet young friend of mine is facing a struggle with her pregnant teenager and they are both way in over their heads, knee deep in the struggle. Daily I watch a friend struggle with insecurity, low self-esteem and depression. And dear friend, I know that if you are living, breathing, and serving Christ, you struggle.

As I wrote in an earlier post, I don't swim, I awkwardly dog paddle. Since my Dad had such a fear of water that he told us girls we couldn't go swimming until we learned to swim, I didn't do much swimming. When I was about 9 or 10, our Baptist association rented a local swimming "lake" for the day and all the
G A girls and their leaders were invited to swim, free of charge, and my Dad let me go. There were lots of leaders there, plus women from our own church, and I'm sure he felt I would be safe.

For awhile I was content to splash around in the edges of the water, but I kept watching my friends out in the deeper part, so I decided to venture out a little farther. This may have been a man-made lake, but it still had drop-offs and I hadn't ventured out too far until I stepped off the solid ground and found myself in water up to my chin and I panicked. And what do we do when we panic? We struggle. Even to this day I can still feel the fear, I can still hear the roaring of the water in my ears, and still remember struggling for something to grab hold of. As I stood on my tippy toes and tried to get closer to shore, the noise, the splashing, and the fear all contributed to my struggle. I was in "almost" over my head, struggling against the water that threatened to wash over me, and more scared than I could remember being in my entire young life. Suddenly someone saw my struggle and they reached out a hand and effortlessly pulled me onto solid ground, I made my way to the shore, and I stayed there for much of the day.

As an adult, I learned that the struggle I had with the water that day was nothing compared to the struggles of everyday living. David and I married young and when 2 very opinionated, strong willed people try to make a decision or come to an agreement, you talk about a struggle! I've struggled with other issues such as fear, low self-esteem, the usual depression that most women struggle with from time to time, jealousy, hurt feelings and anger. I've struggled with making good choices, and the everyday struggle of being a godly wife and raising our sons. And then as if I hadn't struggled enough, there was the struggle to be a good mother-in-law, grandmother, daughter, daughter-n-law, sister, friend. In other words, the struggle to be perfect and have it all together because that's what people expect of us strugglers, right?

If you are a reader of the Old Testament, then you know that many men, and women, struggled. In Genesis
32 Jacob actually struggled, physically, with God Himself. And poor ole Moses endured one struggle after another as he tried to get those wandering Israelites to the Promised Land! But for me, Job stands out as the "struggler of all strugglers".

Job was a man who loved God and God loved him. Job is one man in the Old Testament that I believe God was "proud of", like you and I take that good kind of pride in our children. Job was wealthy, blessed with a wonderful family, honor and prestige in the community and an all around great guy. Then one day, he lost it all. And for the first time in his life he knew what it meant to struggle, I mean really struggle. I hope you'll read his story in the book of Job, but what caught my eye today is found in Job 41. I was reading in a devotional and saw the verse Job 41:3, and in that verse is a word that has always fascinated me and sent my imagination racing; leviathan. The leviathan is defined as the largest of all sea creatures and in Job 41 the Bible says in v33 that "upon the earth there is nothing that can compare to leviathan."

Dear friend I do not know what your struggles may be today, but as a woman I know you have them. Just know this; that what God created, God controls. And if God has complete authority over leviathan, then He has complete control over your struggles. You may have created your struggle through neglect, wrong choices, or out and out sin, but God allowed it and what God allows, He can fix.

So whether you feel you are treading water and just trying to make it to shore, or if you are-facing a struggle that threatens your marriage, the safety of your children, your job, or your very life, the God Who created leviathan can replace your despair with hope.

In Job 41 God reminded Job that He had created leviathan and He has all authority over it. But please don't stop there; in chapter 42 Job finally gets it. After all of his struggles with fear, insecurity, loss, hopelessness, and pride, he sees for the first time why God allowed his struggle.
v2; Job said, "I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You."
v4; "Listen please and let me speak."
And here it is: v5; "I have heard of You with my ears, but now my eyes can see you."

We hear the words of God, but after a struggle with our weight and health issues and God prevails, we see Him.
We hear His words in our struggle with insecurity, but He answers us, and we see Him.
We hear His words in our financial struggle, but then He sends a breakthrough and we see Him.

Dear friend, whatever your struggle may be today, I encourage you to take it to the One Who created and controls leviathan. Remind yourself of Who God is, how big and powerful He is, of His abiding love for you. I am continually amazed at how much less I struggle when I remember that the One Who created all things has total authority over my struggle. Could my struggle in that lake so many years ago turned out differently? It sure could have, but God had a divine plan for my life and He has a divine plan for your life, too. Sometimes in that divine plan He lets us struggle for a set time so that we can grow and expand. And sometimes in that divine plan He lets us struggle so that we won't just hear Him, we will see Him.

Blessings to you and yours today. Thank you to each one who responds; many are faithful to respond to each post and it means so much to me.


(and just one more thing; when you have been delivered from a struggle, and you see a dear sister in her own struggle, do what that dear lady, that I did not know, did for me: reach out a hand and help pull her out of her struggle. God bless)

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