Abraham went from Ur’s security to live as a nomad. Isaac favored a son and alienated a wife. Jacob constantly mediated between two jealous families. Joseph went from favorite son to slave because of the combination of his arrogance and his brothers’ jealousy. Moses left perhaps the most powerful family in the world to be a shepherd in the wilderness. Samuel watched the people he spent his lifetime leading to God reject God (1 Samuel 8:1-7). David fled for his life. Solomon let his wives lead him away from God (1 Kings 11:1-8). Elijah fled from Jezebel. Jeremiah anguished because God’s message through him was rejected (Jeremiah 20:7-11). Daniel was a captive in a foreign country. Jonah, with all his being, objected to God’s mission. Hosea endured the misery of being a living parable to illustrate the faithlessness of God’s people. Most written prophets endured the agony of declaring bad news. Peter denied Jesus in the worst of circumstances. Paul was pursued and ridiculed by Jewish Christians who disagreed with his message. The Christian missionary Demas abandoned Paul and Christ to return to the world (2 Timothy 4:10).

The history of Israel’s story and early Christianity’s story is filled with people who experienced struggles because they followed God. From the perspective of “here and now,” that appears to be a bad choice. Why make that choice when their world had no respect for their decision? Speaking of Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Sarah, the author of Hebrews said this in 11:13-16:

"All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them."
Two reasons for their decision: (1) They understood God planned something special. (2) They understood that they did not belong in a world unconcerned about righteousness.

The something special God planned was Jesus. Because God agreed the righteous did not belong in an unrighteous world, He is preparing a place in which they do belong.

Physical existence without struggle is not an option—not in Christ, out of Christ, or sometimes in and out of Christ. Struggle is part of physical reality. God uses human struggle to accomplish eternal purposes. He always has, and He always will.

The issue is not, “Will I endure struggle?” The issue is, “Will I surrender my struggle to God and allow God to produce eternal good from the difficulties I experience?”

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm" (Ephesians 6:10-13).
Even Jesus, God’s own son, endured stress and surrendered to a cross!

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 7 April 2005

 Link to next article

 Link to other Writings of David Chadwell