Embracing the Struggle

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“Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces of evil . . . . “
Ephesians 6:12

In this world, life is produced, protected and propagated out of struggle. Good things are not only worth fighting for, they must be fought for. “Nothing worthwhile comes easily.” “No pain, no gain.” The mantras that speak this truth to us are everywhere and it doesn’t take great scrutiny to recognize it in our day to day experience and our history as human beings. This truth has been part of our story from the beginning. So why do we resist and fight against this truth more than we embrace it and begin engaging in the real battle? The battle worth fighting for. The struggle that climaxes in good over evil and life over death. Are we tired of fighting? Are we blind to the stakes involved or the glory of goodness triumphant? Are we lazy? Afraid? Yes.

We’ve got to see and embrace, not just accept, but embrace (like a wrestler taking hold of his opponent to pin him to the floor) the truth that life comes out of struggle. Period. Regardless of our excuses for not doing so (we can argue until hell freezes over why we don’t), if we don’t embrace the struggle, there is no hope for life. If we don’t, the struggle is over. We lose.

Years ago when I was a young man in my 20s, I was quickly discovering how messed up the world I was stepping into really was. While witnessing the unrelenting injustices around me, I was also becoming increasingly aware of my own brokenness and inadequacy to effectively confront or resist them, not only in the world around me, but the world within me. Myself. It was overwhelming. Torturous. I seriously questioned if I wanted to spend the rest of my life engaged with such a world. I could easily live a life of isolation, removed from society. A cabin somewhere in the mountains away from it all was very appealing. But what would that solve? I would still have to live with myself and the struggle inside me. So I tapped out. To God.

I accepted life is not just a struggle. Life only comes about with a struggle and I will only experience and produce life if I embrace the struggle. And . . . the struggle begins in my own heart. Walt Whitman, in his poem “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” writes:

“I too knitted the old knot of contrariety,
Blabb’d, blush’d, resented, lied, stole, grudg’d,
Had guile, anger, lust, hot wishes I dared not speak,
Was wayward, vain, greedy, shallow, sly, cowardly, malignant,
The wolf, the snake, the hog, not wanting in me . . .”

Old Walt didn’t even claim to follow the Christ as I did, but he understood and readily confessed his struggle. How could I continue to follow the gracious and forgiving Jesus and not do the same? Most importantly, how could I dare ignore the undeniable and walk away from a lifetime of engaging the struggle so that life could rise triumphant and eternal, not just for me, but for others? I couldn’t. It’s the only thing worth fighting for.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
From the “Good Book”