Life’s Great Struggles Can Be Overcome

There are personal problems that we have all had, that are absolutely unacceptable to God, and it can cause success or failure, make our lives miserable or happy and we must be willing to make change.  Otherwise, it can control us and make our life unsatisfactory.  If everyone could control two primary emotional problems it could change the world.

Having worked with thousands of people, many struggle with numerous problems, failing to find the rich and satisfying life that Christ promised in (John 10:10).  No doubt, we have all known Christians who strove toward being spiritual but failed so miserably and completely that after a time they simply gave up and told God they couldn’t go on.  Maybe this is your story.  If so, be encouraged by knowing the Apostle Paul experienced tremendous struggles and failures—probably more than any of us could complain about.  After a time, he too gave up the struggle: “I do not understand what I do.  For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.  And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.  As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.  I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.  For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out” (Rom. 7:15 – 18).

What Paul did and what all Christians must do is to stop struggling. After Paul described the agony of his internal conflict between his sin nature and spiritual nature, he expressed total despair:  “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Rom. 7:24). Paul surrendered, turning the matter over to the Holy Spirit, and gave up his self-serving nature. He won.

When we do this, we have the ultimate victory; however, we will still have some skirmishes to fight. Christians will face a daily onslaught of events that tempt them to take matters into their own hands and “do battle” with their antagonists. Christians need to be aware that no matter how successful they might be at turning the matter over to the Holy Spirit, thereby putting to death whatever belongs to their worldly natures (see Col. 3:5), they will be tempted to do one of two things: give in to it, or fight it. Either way they lose. But time and experience will teach us that we can indeed win the internal war, not by continuous struggle, but by a continuous surrendering to the Holy Spirit and allowing Him to win the war for us: “The Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2).

Over the years, I have seen people struggle with one problem that seems to cause more difficulties than most.  That is the sin of an unforgiving spirit.  “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.  But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”  (Matt. 6:14 – 15)

Let’s use marriage as an example.  If one person does something that hurts their spouse, how does that person handle it?  Do they have a forgiving heart or an unforgiving one?  If they are unwilling to forgive a battle could ensue.  Regardless what they may have done, God says we must forgive.  To do that requires a spirit that knows how to love.  However, that does not mean we are to allow a husband or a wife to take advantage of us.  But if both husband and wife have loving spirits and forgiving hearts they can have a beautiful relationship.  Perfect love never keeps score.  Marriage has never been a struggle for my wife and me.  It is because of our love for each other and both having spirits that never tried to get even and never kept score.

If in traffic someone cuts you off, what is your reaction?  You are not pleased but a forgiving spirit will not demand retaliation, which so often happens.  Fights, wars are results of having unforgiving spirits.  Presidents have enemy lists.  I have been told that it isn’t unusual for attorneys to have: “I’ll get even lists”. What about you, do you have a list? Do you realize how much trouble is caused by this one spirit, the spirit of unforgiveness?   This is why God said: If you don’t forgive others I will not forgive you.  If you are struggling spiritually or mentally it could be a result of your inability to forgive.  How can you have a personal relationship with Christ if God is not forgiving you for not being forgiving?

I suppose having been a store manager and having had to deal with some very rude customers has given me the experience to develop a forgiving spirit.  I was determined not to let anyone ruin my day.  It wasn’t my fault their dryer didn’t dry, their washer didn’t wash, their freezer didn’t freeze, their blouse shrunk or the white paint didn’t cover the black wall.  Yet, having a forgiving spirit and a heart of love does not mean you cannot be stern and you do not let people walk all over you.  Again, picture what Christ would do in any given situation.  He drove out the money changers yet, on the cross He said: “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)

So how do you overcome life’s struggles?  What two things has God, the Creator, commanded us to do?  We must love and we must forgive.  If everyone in the world could accomplish these two commands, what would society be like?  There would be no hate and Heaven would eventually be over flowing!

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