October 14, 2019
I wrote my first New Year’s resolution when I was in first year of high school. It was one of our requirements for our English subject.
Since then, I have written dozens of resolutions, wanting to become a better person. Then it dawned on me that every year, I was writing the same thing over and over again. I would go back to doing the very things I wanted to change after just a few weeks of trying.
When I became a Christian, I realized that I could not transform myself with will power alone. Real transformation is only possible through Jesus Christ.
As I started to follow Jesus, I saw real change happen in my life. When I would always curse and lie, God transformed me to only speak life and truth. He changed me from being a cheater into a diligent student. He changed me from being a bully to a man of God.
Yet to this day I still find myself struggling to choose between the things of this world and the things of God. There is a constant battle within me. I yearn to please and honor the Lord in everything, but I would sometimes end up doing things that dishonor Him. I desire to do what is right, but I don’t have the ability to carry it out.
I would feel ashamed of myself and wallow in condemnation. I thought that because I already serve in the ministry, I’m not supposed to sin anymore.
If there is one person I would least expect to struggle, it would be the Apostle Paul. He was a great preacher of the gospel, as his preaching comes with a demonstration of the Holy Spirit’s power. He was a very fruitful missionary, having planted several churches throughout the Roman Empire. He was a great leader who empowered many others to lead in the body of Christ. He was a prolific writer who wrote most of the New Testament. Yet, he also struggled.
Paul confessed that he sinned regularly, even compulsively.
For I do not do what I want, but I do the very things I hate. . . . For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.
Paul’s description of his struggle perfectly describes our own experience against sin.
Because of sin, we are facing different struggles. We stumble, feel guilty and disappointed, and become frustrated with ourselves.
So where do we find our hope in the midst of struggles? And how do we fight through our struggles?
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved . . .
This is the gospel—a display of God’s rich mercy! It is so rich that no situation is too hopeless in Christ. His mercy made a way for us to experience redemption and the newness of life.
But the gospel does not just give us hope for our brokenness. It also gives us the grace and strength to overcome our struggles.
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age . . .
Titus 2:11,12 (NIV)
Whatever you are struggling with today, you can draw near to God and receive mercy and find grace.
One of the most liberating truths that we can ever hear in the midst of our struggles is this: You are not alone!
The devil wants us to believe that we are alone and that there’s no one to help us. He wants us to believe that we are the only person who faces this kind of struggle, and so we feel condemned.
But you are not alone! In fleeing from sin, in fighting our struggles, and in pursuing God, we flee, fight, and pursue along with others who call on the Lord out of a pure heart (2 Timothy 2:22).
These are the people we need to surround ourselves with—people who are broken but are being made whole through Jesus and His finished work; people who are struggling just as we are, but continually anchor their hope in Him.
When disappointments and frustrations kick in and hope is depleted, are there trustworthy people who can speak life into your situation and give you hope? When you are about to quit and give up fighting, are there faithful people who will not give up on you?
These kinds of people can only be found in the church. Connect with them.
There is hope in the midst of your struggles. When the struggle is real, always hold on to this promise of God: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)