We all have struggles in life; it’s nothing new to humanity. For the Christian, we might struggle with the ideal of perfection whilst at the same knowing that we will never be perfect this side of Heaven. This can create a dichotomy, as although we are meant to strive towards perfection, we know we will never attain it in this life, and we know that we will never attain it without leaning fully on God. No matter what we do, we will make mistakes, no matter how much we watch ourselves, no matter how good we might be, no matter how hard and long we might pray, we will mess up; it’s that simple, and perhaps that annoying too.
We struggle with our growing godly selves, and our old sinful natural selves. In our natural state, without recourse to God, we cannot do much else but sin, and even live in sin. What might feel right, may just be very wrong to God. As Christians, we need to put on the new clothes each day, and learn to leave off our old clothes, so to speak. In short, we are in a battle, and because of this, we need God’s divine help and guidance each day, to walk in victory. You cannot do it on your own, no matter how good you may be or how good you may think you are. We struggle because we are daily caught in this battle; we struggle because we want revenge, but are supposed to forgive; we struggle because we hate, and we are meant to love; we struggle because we want everything, and we are meant to be grateful for what we already have; we struggle, well simply because we struggle. There is a struggle created by the pull of the world and all its disorder, and the pull of God’s perfect will.
A Purpose in Life
I have found in my own life that when I have a purpose, even if that purpose in life is merely to serve God and live as a Christian each day, I have a reason to get out of bed. God will give us a purpose and a reason in life and will bring meaning and purpose to existence itself. Without God, and without His purpose, we can drift, and sometimes unhappily from place to place, and from one unhappy encounter to another; I know, I have been there. So, we definitely need a purpose in life; it doesn’t have to be to become the richest person in the world or have the biggest corporation, at first it can simply be to find out what God’s will is for our lives; that’s a start. Being a Christian doesn’t necessarily mean we have to be ‘suffering saints’ any more than being some kind of ‘holy Joe’, you can still be an ordinary person whilst learning to serve God; I have found in my thirty or so years as a Christian, as a person with God’s call very much on my life, that He wants us to be ourselves, to be real to ourselves, real to other people and most of all real to God Himself. In short, I feel we don’t have to put on ‘airs and graces’ with God or anyone else for that matter; we don’t have to speak ‘posh’ if we don’t normally, we don’t necessarily have to be pretend to be something we’re not; I believe God takes us as He finds us, as long as we are prepared to listen and learn.
Obedience to God
For many of us who have grown up in liberal Western societies, wealthy Western societies throughout the world, or who have just been fortunate enough to never know real want or real hardship, we can be grateful to God for this. But, sometimes, when we have been brought up not to know real trouble in our lives, we might think that we know best, we might think that we can do what we like, maybe as we always have done.
For some, and certainly for me at one time, being obedient for any reason let alone to God was something that I struggled with and didn’t come easy at all. In many cases I had always had my own way. Again, there was a struggle with what I wanted, and what God wanted from me. I can tell you this for sure; God does want us to be obedient to His will and He wants us to be obedient to His laws and ways and precepts. We cannot live in any kind of sin, we cannot live disobediently to God; sooner or later we will pay the price. For some people obedience is a struggle, and perhaps for others it comes easier; but whatever the case, if we want to be good servants we have to learn to be obedient.
Forgiveness is the Key
I believe one of the ways we get closer to God, and become more like Him, is when we try to take on His attributes; in short, we become more like God when we try to live like Him and modify our behaviour accordingly. One of the things that separates sinful humans from God can be our unwillingness to forgive; for whatever reason. I am certain many Christians will say they forgive, but when it boils down to it, they haven’t forgiven at all. I have struggled with this myself and have found it far easier to live in a state of hate towards other people than living in a state of forgiveness; I don’t think I’m the only one however. But in the final analysis, a Christian must learn not to live in a spirit of hate, but in a spirit of love and forgiveness. For most people, and certainly for me, this doesn’t come easy. But in the long run I have found it is truly for the best.
When we harbour resentments, really for whatever reason, even for a good reason, we only damage ourselves; we can make ourselves ill and unhappy, and I have found that hatred is like a drug in that we need more and more of it to justify that very hatred we might have. Hatred can’t be fulfilled, it just gets worse and worse. Love can be fulfilled, and we were created to live in harmony with our fellow humans; not easy, but possible. When we learn to forgive, truly forgive, we are taking on an important attribute of God; love is bigger than hate, and forgiveness is bigger than vengeance after all. So forgiveness is the key, the key to salvation and the key towards God and a better way of life. When we learn to forgive truly, we close a door on a part of us, a part of us that is hateful and vengeful, and we move onto a better life, a life lived through God’s values that will bring us closer to our destiny, whatever that may be.
I may add that learning to forgive others helps us to forgive ourselves and will bring happiness into our lives, sooner or later.