As you face struggles in your life today, whether they be great or small, know that God has a purpose and plan behind each of them. We are never at the hand of fate or chance. The Christian has a loving heavenly father who is testing, correcting, and building our faith by the situations of our lives.
Struggles are a significant part of the Christian life. If our view of God and life is too simple, then it can lead to frustration and fear. We are left to wonder, “If God is in control, then why am I facing this struggle? If God’s eternal plan is working, then why did he plan for me to deal with these issues in my life?” These are fair questions, but ones for which we must come to a correct answer. Many Christians struggle to grasp the connection between the sovereignty of our God and the real struggles of our lives. Many say that God could not allow these in our lives. They will deny God’s rule and power over all things. This reaction is a total misunderstanding of the Bible and the Christian life.
Even today, in the back of my mind, when I face struggles in my life, I start to wonder — what did I do wrong that God would allow this to happen? Growing up not being taught theology and especially a clear understanding of the doctrines of grace made my knowledge of God unclear. At one moment, God was my loving father in heaven. However, if I sinned, my father became a righteous judge ready to send me to hell until I had confessed and repented of my sin. I bounced through my teenage years experiencing the ups and downs of a “He loves me. He loves me not” spiritual life.
How joyous was my first semester in seminary! On those Monday afternoons Dr. Smith went through the Westminster standards in Introduction to Reformed Theology. For the first time I heard and understood the perseverance of the saints and the Biblical understanding of sanctification. It was life-changing, but there were still struggles. Now for the first time, I could see how God used these trials not as a punishment but as a positive for the Christian life.
Here are three observations about how God can use our struggles.
1. The struggles of our life test our faith.
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.—1 Peter 1:6-7 (ESV)