Struggling Leads to Strength
Much truth is contained in the statement, “a smooth sea never made a skillful mariner.” One who does not undergo the intensity of physical training hardly can expect to become an outstanding athlete. For example, if a man desires to participate in weight training, but at the same time refuses to endure the resistance that comes with adding weight day after day, his chances of becoming stronger are very slim indeed. After all, the whole concept behind lifting weights is resistance. A person struggles with the weight in order to build muscle mass and become stronger physically. Similarly, one who seeks intelligence must struggle through the learning process. He must work at reading, writing, and figuring out problems. The same is true of faith. In order to grow and become stronger, Christians must face some resistance. That is to say, on occasion we must struggle in order to strengthen our spiritual bodies. Jesus told His apostles the night of His betrayal: “In the world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33). Paul told Timothy: “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12).
Sometimes people wonder why God allows trials and tribulations in this world. Why did He not create us so that everything we experience is painless? One of the answers to this oft’-asked question is that sometimes we can benefit greatly from experiencing mental and/or physical pain. We witness this same principle at work in the animal world. The emperor moth must struggle from its cocoon in order to properly develop its body and wings. If it does not struggle, the result is a flightless moth. In Hebrews 11, one reads of Abraham being tested (17), Moses suffering affliction (24-25), and others being mocked, scourged, and imprisoned (36). Did these trials benefit them in any way? James wrote: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2-4, emp. added). In writing to the Corinthian brethren Paul said, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17). The struggles Paul endured while on the Earth were a momentary trifle compared with the eternal glory before him.
You will struggle in this life. When you do, look to the Lord and trust in Him (Proverbs 3:5-6). Realize that different forms of suffering can make us stronger if we permit them to do so. We can be confident that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). This does not mean that everything that happens to us is good. But it does mean that if we are living godly lives, whatever does happen will work out for the best in the long run.