Do you know that struggles can be good for you? Have been told about the butterfly and the strain required to exit the cocoon? It must beat its wings against the cocoon to strengthen its muscles. If the struggle is thwarted the butterfly will die. The struggle is necessary to ensure the strength. Troubles are good for you. It’s a difficult idea to accept. But it is true.
Struggles are part of life. So, how do you face them? What is your choice? Troubles break you down or build you up. You have a choice. The way you face challenges in your life leads you to one of two very different end points: Bitter or Better.
Don’t let difficulties break you down—allow them to build you UP!
Does that sound impossible? Think about your adversity through these 5 facts:
#1—Distress clarifies your motives.
Troubles let you see your motives more clearly. Under pressure you’re more likely to weigh and prioritize your effort. Do you value the end goal including all of the work, time, struggle important to attain that final reward? OR do you determine that the result is not worthy of our desire and effort.
#2— Struggles confirm true friendship.
Pain and hardship prove the character of friendship. When the going gets tough do your friends pack up and leave or do they remain steadfast?
Disagreement and conflict in relationships offer openings to speak the truth in love. Troubles are opportunities to share burdens and joys—to connect more deeply with loved ones and friends.
True friends support you over time and distance. Maybe you haven’t seen that friend for years but you know that the minute you reach out, connect by phone or in person, you will pick up right where you left off. Your friend will rejoice with you, cry with you, and share your struggles as much as they are able.
Even through disagreement or conflict, you can speak openly and honestly. Your friend can say hard things to you because you know that your friend loves you and wants the best for you.
#3—Problems are avenues to share encouragement.
Sharing your burdens with others shares the load. They can encourage, pray, and problem-solve with you. You have the chance to do the same with them when they are feeling low or weak. An opportunity to be the source of strength during their troubles. What you share comes back to you as you give and receive.
Your willingness and ability to stand in love for what honors God is contagious. Your example of God’s strength flowing through you, encourages and empowers others.
#4—Difficulties clarify your needs and limitations.
It’s hard for me, maybe for you, too, to ASK for help. But I have found that I gain much more than help if I share my problems and concerns with appropriate, wise people. I may receive guidance or options for resolving the problem or fulfilling the need. But more than that, I usually benefit by receiving fresh, healthy perspective.
Crises make me stop, use my stress management tools, dig into my mental health first aid kit, and clarify what is my ability, my responsibility. When I am unable to do what must be done, I recognize that I have limitations in knowledge, authority, strength, skill.
#5 Struggles reveal who or what you trust.
Who or what do you go to first for help? Do you trust a pill, drug, or medication? Do you trust yourself, your own strength, ability, and wisdom? OR does suffering humble you, empty you enough to turn to your Creator to fill you?
Are you doing life on your own? How’s that working for you? I’ve tried the “my way highway” and it always ends in disaster.
You may be asking, “Where did you get all these ideas?” My answer is the BIBLE = Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. If troubles turn you away from God, you suffer in your own limitations, but if they turn TO GOD, you find help, healing, guidance, peace, and everything you need.
Get off of the “my way highway” to bitterness and disappointment. Turn to and trust in your Maker—He is always there, waiting for you to run to Him.
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. James 1:2
Father in heaven, You know how hard it is for me and for my friend to see suffering and hardship as opportunity or “joy”. But deep inside, we know the truth of what You say in James 1:2—as we press through troubles, we grow in endurance, strength, and patience.
Even more, we have the opportunity to see Your faithfulness and sufficiency for every single problem we face.
If Daniel had not trusted You when he faced death and was thrown into the lions’ den, we would never have seen how You closed the mouths of the lions and saved Daniel’s life.
Peter would never have been able to experience the miracle of walking on water if he had not asked to come to You, and jumped out of the boat, ignoring the wind, waves, and depth of the sea.
Lord Jesus, don’t let me or my friend brush off pain or trouble, and struggle without You. Turn us away from anger, bitterness, resentment, and vengeance and put hurtful people into Your hands. Use our troubles to bring us back to You.
Help us to see trials, disappointment, and suffering as an opportunity for JOY—to see how You will handle the situation and how You will equip and empower us in Your will, way, time, and Word. I have seen Your wonderful rescue, resolution, and restoration many times.
Allow my friend and me to see Your mighty hand at work in our lives as we turn to and trust You FIRST, not last. In Jesus’ Almighty Name I pray, Amen.