I have a personal saying from my life experience;
“We all will struggle. Let’s struggle well.”
If you have not experienced much personal struggle, you will. When people began to share the idea of following Christ with me, no one spoke of the ensuing battle. Most people talk about how good it will be to follow Jesus. It is better than good, but we do struggle.
Paul spoke of celebrating our tribulations in Romans 5:3-5,
“And not only this, but we also celebrate in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us [emphasis added].”
These words sound like discipleship to me. Discipleship is about learning to struggle well. Jesus’ life on earth was perfect in purpose, but it was not without struggle. He demonstrated to us how to struggle well.
If we follow Christ, we do not struggle alone. Disciples connect to other disciples who are on the journey following Christ. Jesus called the Twelve to be apostles, but had many disciples. They followed and listened to his teaching, practicing what he had done and replicating what they had learned. Did these men struggle? Yes. They learned how to overcome the struggle by Jesus’ example.
Trials and tribulations are a fact of life that Christ never denied; instead, he spoke of them so his disciples might be encouraged and not dismayed. Jesus did not want his followers to be surprised when adversity came; he wanted them to recognize it and work through it as he had done.
Let’s consider the practical step Jesus took that we should use to struggle well.
We must admit our struggle to our Heavenly Father. Daniel was persecuted for his faithfulness, but when faced with the decision of following or falling, he did what he had always done; he brought it to the Lord. David appealed to the Lord countless times when searching for the strength to persevere. Jesus sought the Lord throughout his ministry on earth that he might follow without failure, not without struggle.
A disciple does not waste their time trying to avoid sin. Not avoiding sin may sound counterintuitive, but let’s look at Solomon and David. David instructed Solomon to seek wisdom as a child, describing wisdom and its pursuit in great detail. David also described the danger of sin, beginning with the sin of adultery, in which he had become entangled.
Solomon sought after God and his wisdom, however, Solomon began to live to avoid sin instead. While Solomon did not commit adultery, his avoidance of that sin caused him to marry every woman he desired. Those marriages kept him from one iniquity but led him to another – the worship of other gods and his downfall. As Christ followers, we pursue Christ, and by following him, we will avoid sin. We don’t avoid sin to follow Christ.
If I may, perseverance is not the avoidance of getting knocked down or not losing your footing, it is about getting back up. Getting up is about having a reason to rise again. Jesus did not sin against God, but he did struggle well. He rose every day to bear witness to the truth God has a plan for us that is perfect. Jesus spoke of God’s goodness; how joy, peace and a future could be ours, if we believed his word.
If these words kindle a flame in your heart, then you know you were created for such a journey. Why not join us in being a disciple-maker and learn to struggle well? Let’s persevere together.
This post originally appeared at: Perseverance — The Bonhoeffer Project