The older I get, the easier it is to acknowledge that life is a series of struggles. Though that doesn’t sound terribly hopeful or optimistic, the reality is that existence on this earth isn’t easy, and we constantly face opposition, challenges, and loss — these are part of living in a fallen world. While there are always external forces at work to tempt and try us, many of our struggles are internal. What I mean by that is we often find our sinful nature at odds with the Spirit of the Lord within us. As He works to sanctify our lives through trying circumstances, we are faced with our own self-centeredness, and the conflict we encounter presents us with a choice to move toward His good plan or away from it. When Jacob wrestled with God (who took the form of a strong man), he was unrelenting in his persistence and determined to do it his way. After an entire night of quarreling, the Lord revealed His divine authority to this mere mortal by touching his hip socket and forcing him to limp. From that point forward, the stubborn man’s name became Israel, because after struggling with God and surviving, he finally understood that it was better to work with Him than against Him. I believe the same holds true for us today. Though it seems strange that we should need to wrestle with the One who is the very essence of love, grace, and goodness, our stubborn and self-righteous nature fights against the discomfort of surrender — this is part of working out our salvation and being made new on the inside.
My friend, you are made to struggle! When you surrendered your soul to Jesus Christ, He took your heart of stone and replaced it with a heart of flesh. Though your old nature still resides inside, you are free to embrace the challenges you face knowing that your Lord will use them to strengthen your spirit and make you more like Him. When selfishness rears its ugly head and you are bound and determined to do it your way, remember that the Spirit of the Lord of the Universe lives within you. Instead of fighting to maintain control, choose to surrender your will, submit it to His, and allow Him to work through your battles to give you abundant life!