Been struggling lately? Feeling a little confused? Discouraged? Losing motivation?
Perhaps, temptations seem to be getting more intense. Your weaknesses seem more evident. You may be wondering if you are actually moving backwards, rather than forward.
If so, let me encourage you. You have reached a critical point in your spiritual development. Don’t lose heart. And most definitely, do not give up!
Contrary to appearances, our emotional turmoil may actually be a positive sign. Our struggles may actually be a sign of growing pains in our spiritual life—we may even be on the verge of making a major breakthrough.
In contrast, when we become complacent in our spiritual life or are too pre-occupied with our own concerns or pursuing our own happiness, we may feel just fine. We may be able to successfully distract ourselves from our inner longing for God. We may be able to avoid thinking about the inner work we need to do to keep growing and maturing.
However, once we turn our attention and intention (back) to God’s calling on our life, we will certainly soon be brought back to the place where we last left off. We may have shrunk back from the difficulty of our spiritual journey, and now that we have resumed our pilgrimage, we have to face once again what we couldn’t face earlier. We are being given another opportunity to see and feel our loss, our failure, our weakness, our longing, our frustration, our disappointment, or something else that has been too difficult or painful to face.
So what should we do when we find ourselves newly committed but struggling as much or more than ever?
The same things that are always appropriate and most helpful whenever we want to go deeper, to grow spiritually, and to serve Christ more fully and effectively in our lives. We need to…
• Face reality—ask yourself, what is true about your life and circumstances that you need to acknowledge, whether you like it or not?
• Feel our feelings—without running away from them or distracting yourself, can you let the depth and intensity of your feelings teach you something you need to learn?
• Ask God for help—are you willing to pray that the Holy Spirit will help you to see what you need to see, to have courage to face the truth, and to have enough strength to act on whatever is revealed?
• Look for signs that God is actually part of the process—can you identify ways that God is at work through your struggles? Perhaps the Spirit is helping you to identify important questions; is bringing greater clarity about what’s most important to you; is providing opportunities to grapple with something you know you need to deal with; or, is bringing others into your life at the right time.
• Thank God that we are being given an opportunity to grow—can you hold fast to your faith that God will see you through this current struggle and lead you to the place the Holy Spirit wants to take you?
• Ask others to walk with us—who could you reach out to in order to get the support and help you need to face what you need to face and work through the pain or difficulty you are experiencing?
Facing the truth about how hard our spiritual journey can be a good and necessary thing to do, providing we don’t get stuck there. As the Apostle Paul teaches us by his example, we must also hold on to our faith in the midst of our struggles so that we persevere in the midst of them and grow through them. He writes:
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed…Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9, 16, NIV)
No matter how great your struggles may be, today is the day of opportunity for you. Believe it. Pray it. Live it….one step at a time.
Grace and peace in Christ,
For more on how to navigate better the spiritual journey, order my book, One Step at a Time: A Pilgrim’s Guide to Spirit-Led Living, at https://spirit-ledleader.com/?page_id=29.