God’s People Must Struggle
Written by Leon Leonard
God’s way is the best way of life—but it isn’t always easy. We live in an evil world that makes faithfulness to God difficult. We must struggle against it!
Years ago I heard someone say that if a Christian is not struggling—he or she is not doing anything. After thinking about the statement, I had to agree. Satan is the god of this world, and he has designed nearly everything in this system of his (which is opposed to God) to make living God’s way of life difficult (2 Corinthians 4:4; Revelation 12:9)! Nearly everything labeled as evil by God is growing in prominence and acceptance—while everything labeled as good is degraded and forgotten (Isaiah 5:20)! This is the reality of the world in which we live.
And Satan is not our only enemy! We are naturally inclined to follow the dictates of our sinful nature and heart (Jeremiah 17:9).
But we, as God’s people, cannot surrender to these two forces—the world and our human nature. We are called to struggle against them. God gives us His Holy Spirit so we can overcome this world’s ways and succeed in putting on God’s own character (Ephesians 4:22-24; Galatians 5:22-23).
But, even with the help of God’s Holy Spirit, there still is a struggle. If we are not growing spiritually, then we are struggling in vain or not struggling at all.
Struggles of the apostle Paul
The apostle Paul described his struggles in Romans 7:15-22. These verses give a vivid description of his battle against his human nature. They are not written just to inform us about his life, but to give us an example of how we are to struggle against our human nature as well.
Notice Paul’s description of his internal struggle: “So I find it to be a law (rule of action of my being) that when I want to do what is right and good, evil is ever present with me and I am subject to its insistent demands. For I endorse and delight in the law of God in my inmost self [with my new nature]” (Romans 7:21-22, Amplified Bible). Paul goes on to say in verses 24-25 that He can only be victorious in this struggle by combining His personal struggle with the help of God!
Even though Paul struggled against his ever-present sinful nature, sinning never became a way of life for him. In fact, in some of his final reflections on his life, the elderly apostle wrote: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge will give to me on that Day [at Christ’s return]” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
There is so much we can learn from Paul’s example!
Even Jesus Christ struggled
Jesus Christ agonized deeply in the hours preceding His crucifixion. Notice His words the evening before His death: “My soul is very sad and deeply grieved, so that I am almost dying of sorrow. Stay here and keep awake and keep watch with Me” (Matthew 26:38, Amplified Bible). He even asked three times that the Father would spare Him from this trial (verse 39-44). But even though He asked for relief from the trial, He was fully prepared to submit to it in faith.
Jesus Christ had full trust and confidence in His Father. Even in our most difficult struggles, we can remember the faith of Christ and strive to move forward with the same faithfulness that He showed. Whatever trial we experience, God can and will see us through it.
We need faith to empower us through the struggles we face in life. That faith includes a focus on our future in God’s Kingdom—when our struggles will cease. This hope should drive us forward and remind us that struggling against the sins of this world is worth it.
“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).
Leon Leonard is a member of the Cleveland, Ohio, congregation of the Church of God, a Worldwide Association. He is an entrepreneur and writer.