Acorns From Oakes

Seeing With Our Father's Eyes

The Struggle (4)

 

   Several years ago, I saw a movie about John Forbes Nash, Jr., Nobel Prize winner. Not being familiar with this man’s life, I am not prepared to say what liberties Hollywood took in telling the story. But there was a message that really hit home with me. Nash was a genius…but a troubled one. He suffered from severe psychological disorders, which sidelined him for long periods in his life. He was delusional. His mind convinced him of the existence of three imaginary people.

   The story unfolds in an absorbing way as Nash learns to cope with his “insanity.” The accepted medical treatment at the time, left him unable to feel and function as his family and his work required. He came up with an alternative solution that didn’t involve drugs. He had been used to thinking his way to the solutions of mathematical problems. Why not, he reasoned, use logic to solve his present dilemma. He was finally able to resume a useful place in society by refusing to acknowledge the imaginary people. However, these people never go away for Nash. He is regularly able to see them even in his older age. He simply refuses to respond to them. His victory over his affliction was really an unceasing struggle to focus on the real and ignore the unreal which at times clamored for his acknowledgement. The story became a parable for me.

   By this time in my Christian life, it has become apparent to me that victory in Jesus looks a lot different than I had at first expected. I thought that temptation would eventually lose its power over me, if I only did the right things. Now I know that there is a continuing struggle for all Christians. There are some problems, perhaps even many problems, that never go completely away. Our challenge is to not focus on them. We make it our aim not to respond to some things that have a powerful pull on our hearts. The Apostle Paul said, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen…” (2 Corinthians 4:18a). And we can only do this by faith. We have to deal with things that are seen somehow. We have to experience them. We may have to hurt over them. But we don’t have to continually focus on them. There is Another focus for us. We may fix our eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). We are not going to go through life unscathed.We are not going to always look or feel like winners. We will not experience uninterrupted bliss or unhindered progress in this life. But we will not be alone. We will not be forsaken. We will be loved. We will be forgiven. We will be wanted. We will have a reason for going on. We will be heaven bound.

   We need to learn to be honest about our struggles…not so as to drag others down, but to allow others to see they are not alone as they feared they were. We choose, in the midst of fierce struggles, to see more than the struggles. We choose to see Jesus Christ. We choose to love Him and serve Him. We learn that many times He delivers us “in” our struggles and not “from” them for His own holy purposes. So, brothers and sisters, struggle on, looking not at what is seen but at what is unseen. For this is part of what is meant when the Bible says, “We walk by faith and not by sight.”

   Will you pledge yourself, along with me, to unceasing resistance to all that would lead us away from the Savior Who died for love of us and lives to see us home with Him? Struggle on with good hope!

 

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5 thoughts on “The Struggle (4)

  1. I too had unmet expectations. I thought that eventually things would get easier. When they didn’t … when I kept struggling with the same things even when I really tried to do different … I thought it meant I just wasn’t going to be able to do what God wanted. I let myself get so depressed over it that I gave up. It was my own fault. I used my struggles as an excuse to just quit.

    While trying to break an addiction some friends and I would talk about our thoughts. The thoughts never seemed to stop even when we weren’t giving in to them. I again started to feel like I must not be getting better because these thoughts were still coming into my mind. I had a false idea that the thoughts would stop because my actions had.

    I was reminded of my Christian life that I had given up on for the same reason. My thoughts! I believed … whether I was taught it or came up with it on my own … that my thoughts were just as bad as the action. My mind works in strange ways … makes jumps to things that I can’t control … and I don’t know that it will ever stop.

    Thankfully I finally learned that thoughts are not sin. Wow! That lesson literally changed my life. I was able to look at my thoughts as an unpleasant struggle … but my actions were the important part.

    I don’t like the idea of Him delivering me “in” my struggles instead of “from” my struggles. But only because I prefer to live struggle free thank you. If that’s not possible then I must learn to understand the other option … deliverance “in” my struggle. That’s a thought I’ve never had … one I will have to chew on a while … but one that I think will come to give me great hope.

    PAIGE,
    I WAS WONDERING…WHERE DO YOU THINK THE “EXPECTATIONS” WE HAVE COME FROM? I’D BE INTERESTED IN HEARING YOUR IDEAS ON THAT. WE SHOULD HAVE EXPECTATIONS, RIGHT?! I THINK WE MUST HAVE THEM. I THINK WE SHOULD HAVE DREAMS AND HOPES. AND THESE WILL GROW AND CHANGE AS WE DO THE SAME. DON’T WE HAVE A RIGHT TO ASK GOD…WHAT’S IN IT FOR US? I THINK SO…I KNOW PETER ASKED THAT QUESTION TO JESUS. BUT IT SEEMS TO ME THAT THE DEEPER WE PERCEIVE HIS LOVE OF US AND THE DEEPER WE THEN FALL IN LOVE WITH HIM, THAT LESS AND LESS WE DWELL ON “WHAT” WE GET OUT OF IT AND MORE AND MORE ON “WHO” WE GET TO LIVE WITH AND KNOW INTIMATELY BOTH NOW AND FOREVER.
    IN OUR ZEAL TO PRESENT THE CHRISTIAN LIFE IN ITS BEAUTY (AND TRULY IT IS BEAUTIFUL), HAVE WE MADE APPEALS TO THE WRONG IMPULSES IN PEOPLE? JUST WONDERING.
    I AM GLAD GOD BROUGHT THAT TRUTH HOME TO YOU ABOUT THOUGHTS VERSES DEEDS. HIS TRUTH BRINGS FREEDOM, DOESN’T IT? I WONDER HOW MANY OF US ARE STILL ALLOWING OURSELVES TO BE HELD CAPTIVE BY THOUGHTS, INSTEAD OF ALLOWING HIM TO TAKE OUR THOUGHTS CAPTIVE AND TO HELP US UNDERSTAND THAT THOUGHTS OF EVIL ARE NOT NECESSARILY DEEDS OF EVIL. OUR CHRIST-INSPIRED ATTITUDE IN ALL THIS IS OF GREAT IMPORTANCE, I JUDGE.
    I UNDERSTAND YOUR COMMENT ABOUT NOT LIKING THE STRUGGLE. IT ISN’T AT ALL ENJOYABLE, IS IT? BUT ISN’T IT WONDERFUL WHEN A GIRL GOES OUT TO WHERE HER SAVIOR SUFFERS TO BLESS OTHERS AND PUTS HER SHOULDER UNDER HIS LOAD WILLINGLY…WHEN SHE ACCEPTS THE INSULTS IN HIS NAME AND FOR HIS HONOR…WHEN SHE IS WILLING TO RISK MISUNDERSTANDING OR MOCKERY OR LONELINESS OR WHATEVER ELSE JUST TO MAKE SURE HER SAVIOR KNOWS, HE WILL NOT BE ALONE AS LONG AS HER HEART BEATS WITHIN HER. IS THAT NOT GLORIOUS? EVEN THOUGH SHE STUMBLES AND STRUGGLES ALONG AND DOUBTS HERSELF, SHE WON’T…CAN’T…QUIT…FOR LOVE OF HIM WHO GAVE EVERYTHING FOR HER. I WISH TO BE LIKE HER.

  2. Rex Boyles on said:

    I appreciate what you wrote: “We need to learn to be honest about our struggles…not so as to drag others down, but to allow others to see they are not alone as they feared they were.” Such honesty – “realness” – not only comforts those who realize they are not alone – it helps them realize the amazing grace of God for sinners like me. Such grace is seen – not only in the forgiveness He gives to me … but in the reality that He allows me to remain in fellowship with Him – a brother of whom He is not ashamed – a king and priest seated with Him at the right hand of God … while I continue to “deny myself” – “bear my cross daily” – and follow in His steps. I want to … with you … “struggle on with good hope”. Thank you for saying it … for showing it in your life and ministry. I have seen it up close in your heart and soul. Rex

    WE DO STRUGGLE ON TOGETHER WITH GOOD HOPE, DON’T WE, BROTHER? EVEN THOUGH YEARS, MILES, WORK, FINANCES, AND EVEN PRECIOUS FAMILY, KEEP US APART. I, TOO, HAVE SEEN THIS “NO QUIT” IN YOU BOTH UP CLOSE AND FROM A DISTANCE. I HAD RATHER SEE IT UP CLOSE AND DAILY, IF I HAD MY WAY. EVERY DAY THAT GOES BY…ANOTHER DAY OF SILENCE AS FAR AS HEARING THE REFRESHING TRUTH OF GOD’S WORD DISTILLING AS THE DEW FROM YOUR TEACHING MINISTRY…ANOTHER DAY MISSING THE SIGHT OF YOUR EYES LIGHTING UP AS YOU POUR YOUR HEART INTO PRECIOUS PEOPLE YOU LOVE SO WHO WILL NOT ONLY BE ABLE TO TEACH OTHERS ALSO, BUT WHO DO SO…ANOTHER DAY WITHOUT THE STRENGTH OF YOUR FELLOWSHIP IN PERSON THAT ALWAYS DOES MY HEART GOOD LIKE A WONDERUL MEDICINE…EVERY DAY, I SAY, THAT GOES BY, BRINGS ME NEARER MY SALVATION THAN WHEN I FIRST BELIEVED, NEARLY FORTY-SIX YEARS AGO NOW…NEARER THE COMFORT HE OFFERS…NEARER A PLACE FOR ME AT LAST…NEARER TO GOOD RIDDANCE OF ALL MY SINNING…NEARER THE WELCOMING PLACE WHERE, BY HIS GRACE, I SHALL GREET WITH GREAT JOY, ONE BY ONE, ALL HIS BELOVED, AND MINE, WHO COME OFF VICTORIOUS BY HIS BLOOD, BY THE WORD OF THEIR TESTIMONY AND BY LOVING HIM MORE THAN LIFE. WHAT A DAY! AND THOUGH THESE DAYS OF DISTANCE PILE UP INTO YEARS BETWEEN US, THEY HAVE NEVER AND CAN NEVER DIMINISH EVEN ONE IOTA THE TRUTH THAT HAS ALWAYS BLESSED ME (AND FOREVER SHALL) WHERE YOU ARE CONCERNED…THAT YOUR FELLOWSHIP IN JESUS’ CAUSE HAS BEEN, AND IS, A GIFT TO ME “FROM THE FIRST DAY UNTIL NOW” AND FOREVER. I’LL SEE YOU…ONE OF THESE DAY, MY FRIEND.

  3. Sarah on said:

    Hello, Doug. I have read your blog before, but never commented. I feel like I should introduce myself, I am Sarah. It seems like I know you, I have certainly heard lots about you, and your love for the people I love.

    When I was reading this post I was thinking about that sigh we let out when our eyes are opened to the Lord’s faithfulness in the struggles. In those hard times it is hard just to breathe, but when we can look back and see God’s fingerprints in our struggle that sigh of relief is so very sweet! Thank you Lord, for giving us a chance to breathe out!

    SARAH,
    THANKS FOR WEIGHING IN ON THIS ONE. IT’S GOOD TO KNOW YOU. I HAVE READ YOUR COMMENTS ON THE BLOGS OF REX, PAIGE AND SHERRY. ANY FRIEND OF ANY OF THEM IS FRIEND TO ME TOO, EVEN IF THEY DON’T WANT TO BE (SMILE). ISN’T IT GOOD NEWS THAT IN CHRIST’S CHURCH WE GET A FREE PASS BECAUSE OF THE LOVE HE INSPIRES?. SO MANY TIMES I HAVE BEEN WELCOMED AND LOVED BY PEOPLE WHO DIDN’T KNOW ME PERSONALLY, BUT WHO KNEW SOMEONE THAT DID KNOW ME AND LOVE ME. IT REALLY IS GOOD.
    I KNOW FROM READING YOUR WORDS THAT YOU HAVE GOOD STUFF TO SAY THAT WE ALL NEED TO HEAR. SO THANK YOU FOR SHARING. I AGREE COMPLETELY ABOUT THAT SWEET SIGH OF RELIEF THAT EMANATES FROM US WHENEVER WE DISCOVER, ALL OVER AGAIN, THE GOODNESS OF THE LORD WHO WILL NEVER LEAVE US, NOR FORSAKE US…NOT EVEN WHEN WE DESERVE IT. NO, IF THERE’S ANY LEAVING TO BE DONE, IT WILL BE DONE BY US (GOD FORBID), FOR HE ABIDES FAITHFUL AS THE ONE, ABOVE ALL, UPON WHOM WE MAY COMPLETELY AND FOREVER DEPEND. BLESS HIM…AND, AS YOU SAID, “THANK YOU, LORD.”
    GOD BLESS YOU, SARAH, AND JESUS GIVE YOU ALL KINDS OF PEACE IN BELIEVING. IF YOU THINK OF IT, PLEASE PASS ON MY LOVE TO ALL THOSE AT THE OPEN WHOSE FACES I HAVE NOT YET SEEN, BUT WHOSE HEARTS REFLECT A DEVOTION TO JESUS WHICH I ENVY AND WISH TO IMITATE.

  4. To pretend that the struggle doesn’t exist would make us hypocrits wouldn’t it? We have to acknowledge that the struggle exists. If we go through life without admitting that we struggle or have weakness, then how in the world do we encourage others who are fighting the same fight? They would never approach us with their own struggle because of the perception of perfection.

    We do not however, have to allow ourselves to be crushed by the weight of the struggle. The guilt about a weakness or struggle does manage to find its way to make my heart heavy. But by letting God deal with the sin and the guilt, I can live in His light. I can find a way to breathe and grow. I can find joy in His people. I can share the beauty of His word.

    I will struggle on against any force that might try to keep me from Jesus…because I will NOT let anything keep me from following Him ever again. Lord please help me!

    YOUR LAST PARAGRAPH…THOSE ARE BRAVE WORDS, DEAR SISTER…AND I LOVE THEM…BECAUSE I KNOW YOU MEAN THEM…BECAUSE THEY CALL TO THE BETTER QUALITIES WITHIN EACH OF US WHO READ YOUR HEART AND WE ALL WANT TO, WITH YOU, LIVE UP TO THEM. SURELY THE LORD IS PLEASED BY SUCH RESOLVE AND BY SUCH A REQUEST FOR HIS HELP.
    AND YES, I DO AGREE, IF WE REMAIN SILENT ABOUT OUR STRUGGLE, WHILE OTHERS OF OUR ACQUAINTANCE HAVE SUCH DIFFICULTY KEEPING THEIR HEADS ABOVE WATER, WE DO SEND A WRONG MESSAGE…WE DO QUENCH THE FIRE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT WHO WOULD LOVE TO SERVE THE HURTING THROUGH OUR BEING HONEST ABOUT OUR EXPERIENCES…AND, WORST OF ALL, WE MISS AN OPPORTUNITY TO REACH OUT AND HELP A FELLOW-STRUGGLER WHO COULD REALLY USE A HAND UP.
    YOUR HONESTY IS UNQUESTIONED. YOUR LOVE OF JESUS IS REAL. YOUR DESIRE TO BE USED TO BLESS OTHERS IN HIS NAME IS SO GOOD. MAY FATHER GOD FULFILL YOUR EVERY DESIRE FOR GOODNESS.

  5. Gail on said:

    I have had people say as you get older things do not get easier either.
    I believe the same thing with the sin struggling does not get easier either.
    But I do believe as we continue this journey that I know more about God will be with me in the struggling. He is with me even when I don’t realize he is with me and helping me. I just know it because of the way things of life goes at times. You know what I mean.

    Gail
    DEAR SIS,
    AS LONG AS OUR NERVE ENDING ARE ALIVE, WE WILL FEEL THE PAIN, BUT ALSO THE PLEASURE. THIS IS TRUE SPIRITUALLY, TOO, I THINK. OUR LIVES, HOPEFULLY, MORE CLOSELY RESEMBLE OUR SAVIOR AS OUR YEARS ADD UP. HOWEVER…THE CLOSER WE COME TO HIM, THE MORE KEENLY WE FEEL OUR SHORTCOMINGS…SO? SO…IT’S PAIN AND MORE PAIN. BUT IT’S WORTH IT. FOR THIS IS A STRUGGLE THAT HONORS OUR CHRIST. AND HE IS WORTH WHATEVER INVESTMENT WE ARE CALLED UPON TO MAKE, ISN’T HE? SO…WHETHER MY CIRCUMSTANCES ARE SMOOTH OR NOT…WHETHER I AM ABLE TO SMILE OR HAVE TO WEEP…WHETHER I CAN BREATH EASILY OR ONLY WITH GREAT DIFFICULTY…HE IS MINE AND I AM HIS…WHAT CAN I WANT BESIDE? I LOVE YOU, SIS.

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