The Struggle Is Real
I’ve said it. I’ve read it.
The caption on the image said, “I’ve got ninety-nine problems, and they all involve carbs.” Followed by the familiar hashtag: #thestruggleisreal
The struggle is real.
It’s easy to think our struggles would be resolved if only we could fix someone or something else. But when the struggle is within us, it goes where we go.
Every so often, Greg has said, “People change . . . [pause for effect] but not all that much!” We have laughed together about this, many times.
We’re all a piece of work, aren’t we?
But truly, within the struggle is an underlying fear that some things might never change—and hard on the heels of that, comes discouragement. We’re tempted to cease the struggle. As Oscar Wilde famously said, “The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it.” Ah, why not just give in? Self-love is so much easier than self-denial.
Make no mistake, giving in to temptation is easy. Easy peasy. Selfish desire is like drinking ice-cold lemonade on a sultry summer day. It slides down so easily in the heat. Only later to find it was contaminated with e-coli.
“This is just who I am.” The voices are loud today telling us that it’s all about who I am. But is it? We can make that our excuse. Too often, though, what we label as “who I am” the Bible calls indwelling sin. God’s Word tells us the truth about who He is and how He wants to transform us.
When I was not a Christian, I never knew anything about a sin struggle. Unbelievers don’t struggle with sin. The idea of temptation sounds old fashioned, out of date. I used to deal with temptation the way Oscar Wilde prescribed, by just giving in to it. But when I believed in Jesus, my identity changed. I put Him on the throne of my life. And the struggle with sin became real.
Someone once told me that she couldn’t forgive a certain person for a wrong done to her. She set her jaw with the determination of a toddler. “Don’t say that,” I responded. I could almost hear that inner two-year-old insisting I won’t, I won’t, I won’t. Gently and as firmly as I could, I urged her, “You can, and you must, forgive.”
The struggle is real. For the believer, it will be. Please hear me on this.
Sin—however small, understandable, or respectable it may be considered—is deadly. It cannot be housebroken. It cannot be tamed. It cannot be restrained with a collar and leash. We must recognize sin for what it is and deal with it. As John Owen warned, “Be killing sin or it will be killing you.”
I don’t want to be petty, I want to be kind. I want to be gracious with my words, though it’s much easier to be critical. I hate envy and yet I feel the green-eyed monster within me. Oh Lord! Deliver me! Have you ever cried out, “The things I ought to do, I don’t do—and the things I don’t want to do, these I do!” You’re in good company, the apostle Paul did too (Romans 7:18-19).
It is easy to talk about happiness. It isn’t popular to talk about holiness. Is God interested in our happiness? Yes. But real happiness is not found outside of real holiness.
We need a picture of what true happiness looks like—and it looks like Jesus. I won’t settle for less, no matter what my heart tells me. The real struggle is with sin, and it will be as long as I am alive.
Don’t make a truce with sin. Don’t excuse it, or coddle it, or let Satan minimize it. But don’t let the devil condemn you or use it to destroy you. Remember that all sin, confessed and repented of, is covered by the blood of Jesus. You stand in Him, forgiven.
Cry out to Jesus to give you a new heart. Fill your heart and your imagination with a scriptural vision of the beautiful new you that God is creating.
Do walk in humility. Daily. Recognize that we need God’s constant flow of grace in our lives. Remember that tomorrow is a new day.
Yes, the struggle is real—but so is the power of God’s Spirit living in us. By God’s grace, we can change from “this is just who I am” into who He is making us. And when He is done and our struggles are over, we shall be like Him.
“In all these things, we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” – Romans 8:37