Definition of struggling well
– Engage and wrestle with life believing that God is enough and in the confusion and mystery of life, point myself to Christ my only hope.
There’s the ideal and then there’s reality
Struggling with openness, honesty and transparency. Paul said I don’t want you to be unaware of what is going on in my world.
We have two different types of theology – Church theology (what we sing about, what we say around other Christians), and Functional theology (how we really live).
When he grew up in church as a kid they used to sing “Every day with Jesus is sweeter than the day before…” – the truth is that every day is not sweeter. New song withing the last couple years – “God’s people are happy people, happy all the time …” – seriously, all the time?
Somewhere along the line, reality will set in and alter your ideal (lose job, get cancer, kids rebel, spouse leaves …)
In the midst of those struggles, we want to get out of it or change it rather than listening to what God is doing.
Life is a mystery to be lived, not a problem to be solved – Søren Kierkegaard, Danish philosopher
Three key demands – we are going to be in control so we can fix it
– we want fairness (how come they get that and I get this)
– we want God to give us an explanation
Last words Jesus says to his disciples – John 16:33 – I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world.
James 1 – Consider it pure joy my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds.
Dirty 4 letter words at church – fine, good
Four Quadrants of Struggle
Eugene Peterson – Real faith cannot be reduced to spiritual antacids or merchandised success stories. Real faith is refined in the fire and the stories of pain.
CS Lewis – God whispers to us in our pleasures, He speaks to us in our consciousness and He shouts to us in our pain. I will engage and wrestle with life, believing that God Himself is enough.
Job – Unanswered, unexplained struggle – no peace, no rest, no quietness, only turmoil.
4 quadrants, where struggle comes from
– My sin – operating outside God’s design
– We live in a fallen world – things happen out of our control
– Spiritual forces – devil’s team is not happy when you become a Christian
– My Faith – choosing to follow Christ is costly
When the amount of struggle does not equal the amount of wrong I’ve committed…
There are times when believing God is like being awake during open heart surgery, where the only anesthetic is trust in the surgeon.
Stepping on the Path
Job’s friend states the truths correctly but comes to the wrong conclusion, he missed that at the core of the heart of God is relationship; his friend was consumed with religious correctness.
Job feels the absence of God in the midst of his struggle.
We need to enter into the confusion believing that God is there.
Obedience never produces deliverance but gracious deliverance should result in obedience.
Keeping it Real
Commit to live in community with authenticity. Job 6:14 MSG “When desperate people give up on God Almighty, their friends, at least, should stick with them.”
We live in a society that lacks social capital and genuine community.
We grow in the crucible of messy relationships.
The church should be a series of relationships in which we can be genuine.
2 Cor 1:8-9 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death…
2 Cor 2:4 For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you.
An uncommon approach
Move towards God with an uncommon Honesty
Line is crossed if we stop moving toward God
Cycle of Brokenness
Submit to be broken over sin in self
Job 42:2 Job saw he was weak
Job 42:3 Job saw he was unwise
Job 42:6 Job saw he was unworthy
When broken, it will move me to repentance.
Tim Keller – The purpose of repentance – tap into the joy of our union with Christ in order to weaken our need to do anything contrary to God’s heart.
Confident in God’s forgiveness in Christ.
Broken, Repent, Abandon, Confident
Christian life is a lifestyle we live not a finish line we cross.
A Longing for Hope
We need to find a hope that sustains.
When hope goes through suffering it is strengthened.
God’s hope cannot be destroyed by people’s temporary failures.
Romans 5:3-4 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Heading in the Right Direction
I need to point myself to Christ daily.
Habakkuk 3:18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.