Most of the blogs I read last Thursday had the same theme. One after another repeated a similar idea over and over again. This had me asking, “Okay, God, what’s up?” Because, as I’ve shared before, repetition is often a way God uses to get through to me.
What was the theme, you might ask? Well, the blog posts I read all talked about life being worth the struggle. Specifically they discussed how we all experience pain and loss in our lives but then each blogger (in his or her own unique way) brought the post back around to God’s sufficiency in the midst of it all.
I needed to hear this. Not necessarily because I have any big trial in my life right now. But because I know having the right mindset when one does come is so necessary. And being able to help others walk through their own struggles in life is important as well. So, may these excerpts open your eyes as well to the reality but also the hope of our life in Christ:
“In his final breath, I cannot help but think of the anxiety that must of penetrated in that place as Jesus’ followers waited to see the prophesy fulfilled. Jesus would die, but three days later he would rise; reminding us that life not death; light not darkness has the ultimate word. Charles W. Hall says, “Easter says you can put death in the grave, but it won’t stay there.”
This ultimate word reminds us that when our bodies are paralyzed with fear, God is with us. That when we are crippled with our own anxiety, waiting to find any way out, God is with us then too. That when it feels like we are being handed over to the enemy, God is standing right there with us too.” (“Paralyzing Anxiety” by Praying on the Prairie)
“I’m not sure how you experience life. One way I experience life is as a battle. Since empathy and connecting with others are my wiring and because I’ve been pastoring for a while now and even writing this blog long enough, I know that some people relate with my experiences. Not everyone finds life a battle, but some do…
The battle rages and falls back. Sometimes, for hours at a time, I can forget I’m in a battle. Other times, it’s all I can manage. Fighting my battle gives me credibility to speak into the lives of others who are fighting theirs. I see that as one redemption of what I face.” (“Battle” by Grace is Greater)
“There is so much uncertainty in this world. So much heartache. So many struggles. But by His grace we know the truth. We know He is with us and He is all we need.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
We don’t have to know everything and we don’t have to understand everything. It certainly is not easy, but we are called to carry these things. It is all part of our journey here on earth. What gets us through is that we know we don’t have to carry them alone.” (“He is Enough” by (in)courage)
“David must have had some hard days and sleepless nights where he, too, questioned his calling. I wonder if one struggle after another — one detour after another — one delay after another — caused David to examine his situation and ask God if He still planned to fulfill His predestined purposes in David’s life? Maybe there were even brief moments when he felt forgotten, invisible, not good enough?…
Thankfully, we know David trusted God despite the enormous challenges he faced. And we get a glimpse of David’s thoughts as we read his words in Psalm 138:8, “The LORD will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O LORD, endures forever; Do not forsake the works of Your hands.” (NKJV)…
Those beautiful words were originally penned thousands of years ago by David, and yet they spoke truth right into my situation that day. Reassuring me. Comforting me. Rekindling my hope once again.” (“When I Question God’s Plan” by Proverbs 31 Ministries)
“It is exhausting.
It is liberating.
It doesn’t get easier.
It gets harder.
But I have wonderful news – we were not called to comfort. We weren’t called to be unshakable portraits of courage or calm. We were not intended to self-soothe with warm messages of false pride and emotional placidity. We were not made to be happy. And we sure weren’t made for small talk.
We were made for the mess, that ridiculous mixture of suffering and gladness, that disquieting blend of love and grit that stresses us out and raises us up. This is our birthright.” (“Year 4.5 – The Look of Life” by Shannan Martin Writes)
Perhaps part of the reason I needed to read all those blog posts was to prepare me for this Sunday’s sermon. Because the sermon seemed to sum up a lot of what I had been mulling over since Thursday. You see, our church is going through an “I AM Enough” series on the sufficiency of Christ in our lives and this Sunday was on “I AM The True Vine” from John 15:1-8:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
The part in Scott’s sermon which really stood out to me was that pruning will happen in each of our lives, no matter what. We simply have to trust that this pruning will bear fruit. We also need to learn that we aren’t called to endless activity and change but to real growth. And to get to that real growth our root system has to be bigger than our fruit system!
So, how do we become well-rooted? We get rooted as we come and find our life and identity in Jesus first. Our hope needs to be in Christ and not in our external “fruit.” Well-rooted and fruitful – this is God’s hope for us all!