There’s a phrase I like to use, and that is “A good struggle.” Now I know what you’re thinking: “Dan, that’s an oxymoron. There’s no such thing as a good struggle because all struggle is hard.” Exactly! Struggling is hard work. And our christian life is the same way. Can we all agree that being a Christ-follower is not easy? If there was a speed-read course for becoming more like Christ, I would be like, “Sign me up! I’ll take that!”
That’s what Paul was talking about in the book to the Philippians when he said,
“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14, ESV, Italics added)
Did you see the pattern there? Paul was straining in his spiritual journey for the prize of God.
Let me give a real-life example. Have you ever had to move something that you just thought “Man, that’s going to be heavy.” I remember one time when I was a counselor on Word of Life Island and we had reached the end of camp and had to pack everything up. Everyone had a job to do, and as soon as you were done, you moved on to another job. We were all pretty tired. And at one point a group of us were asked to move these big, metal bleachers across a field, uphill, over tree roots and into a building for storage. You just looked at these things and felt tired. But we got together, pushed it up, and got it stored. And let me tell you, it was a good feeling when we were done. Because we knew that even though it was a hard struggle the job was done and everything was right. It was a good struggle.
That’s what Paul meant when he said he was “straining forward.” Following Christ is hard, but it’s good. It’s always good. And it always will be good. What was Paul straining for? For what lies ahead. Christians have a hope that no other person can have. I’m not talking about the kind of hope we have that our football team (or hockey team in my case) is going to win the championship this year. I’m talking about all-in, full-throttle, 100% surety that what we’re striving for is real and true.
Here’s 3 things I suggest to remember in our good struggle. (I can tell you this is definitely not original from me. Many great men and women have been telling us this for years. It’s just good to remind ourselves).
1. Get in the Word. Simple truth. Turn off the TV, shut down the computer, put down your phone, and just get in the Word of God. You might say, “But I have so many other things to do.” It’s a fact of life that we make time for what is important to us. Make time for God!
2. Pray. Let’s admit it. In our busy, work-oriented world we live in, doing nothing but kneeling to God in prayer can seem like a waste of time. But that is a lie from the devil himself. There is nothing greater you and I can do than to invite the power of the living God into our lives.
3. Share with other believers. We’re part of a body, a family. And what can be more encouraging than sharing what Christ is doing in your life, and knowing that you’re not alone.
Again, just remember: It’s a struggle, but it’s a good struggle.