Battling Through It

Thankfully life has a certain amount of inertia. That is, sometimes you wonder how you keep going, and the answer is that it would be considerably more difficult to stop. In general, what real choice do we have?

You live in a certain place, you have a certain family, there are certain people in your life, and you have certain responsibilities. Although one might fantasize about just walking away from it all, where, exactly, would you actually go? How would you pay for it? What would you do there? And in the end, wouldn’t you simply wind up with only slightly different scenery?

The reality of life is that what you are doing, who you are doing it with, and how you are living is a consequence of who you are. “Walking away from it all” would still involve taking you with you—and so nothing would actually change.

Changing one’s life is not simply a matter of dropping everything and running away. Children will say they are going to run away from home. They might make it all the way to the end of the block, but then they go back once it starts getting dark or they get a little hungry.

Most people in the the time of Jesus time were looking forward to the Messiah bringing them the Kingdom of God. They conceived of that very concretely: when they Messiah arrived, he’d kick the Romans out of Israel and restore the Davidic kingdom. But that’s now how it was actually going to be. “Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, ‘The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, “Here it is,” or “There it is,” because the kingdom of God is within you.'” (Luke 17:20-21)

Doubtless several people who heard that were disappointed. But what Jesus revealed about the nature of the Kingdom is the good news. As bad as everything might seem at the moment for you, the Kingdom of God truly is inside of you, whether you feel it or not, and no matter how bad things are just now. How you feel does not alter fundamental reality.

In Romans 12:2 Paul wrote about “renewing your mind.” And, as much as we might want to be able to run away, as much as we wish there were an “Easy Button” to press, or that we could twitch our nose and change the world around us, in fact, the way we change our lives is by changing ourselves—by being willing to make different choices today and to think differently about what we’re experiencing.

There are no easy answers. And life is often a struggle. It may sound like a cliché, but you just have to keep on struggling. And remember, as a Christian, you’re not alone. God is with you no matter where you go, no matter what you face. Don’t expect him to take you out of your circumstances; instead, expect him to walk with you through them, to give you the strength to endure.

There is a reason that the Bible speaks about the importance of encouraging one another. That’s because life is not encouraging in and of itself very often. And because we are human, it is easier to see the problems than it is to see the hope. It is easier to get down than it is to get up. It is easier to forget than it is to remember

Consider the following passages as you struggle through today; reading them regularly can help you keep things in perspective:

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1-2)

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:25-34)

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:18-39)

Why do you complain, Jacob?
Why do you say, Israel,
“My way is hidden from the LORD;
my cause is disregarded by my God”?
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
(Isaiah 40:27-31)

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm the interim pastor at Quartz Hill Community Church. I have written several books. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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