Suffering and struggle is a fact of life. It comes in different forms but everybody faces seasons of it from time to time. Whether it’s a marriage that seems to be crumbling, children whose choices are destroying their lives, the illness or death of a loved one, loss of employment, never being able to quite catch up financially, or any other of hundreds of things, we all face suffering, and it’s hard not to ask “why”.
If I were to tell you I have it all figured out I’d be lying. I can’t tell you to just trust in Jesus, or pray and God make it go away. But I can tell you there is hope, a purpose, and strength to face whatever is in front of you. It’s why James can say, “My brothers and sisters, you will face all kinds of trouble. When you do, think of it as pure joy. Your faith will be put to the test. You know that when that happens it will produce in you the strength to continue. The strength to keep going must be allowed to finish its work. Then you will be all you should be. You will have everything you need.” (James 1:2-4, NIrV)
In his allegorical tale “A Wolf Story” James Byron Huggins eloquently expresses that Biblical truth and the battle we face:
“If you defeat him he will retreat. But he will always return. On another night, when you are tired, weak, or afraid, he will come to you again. He will wait until you are beaten down by the world, attacking when you are weary. He will lure you with pleasures and the secret desires of your heart. It will be a great struggle. But you must endure it. You must endure. The Lightmaker (God) will not allow you to suffer more than you can bear. Always, his grace is sufficient for the task.
Remember this and it will give you hope. And when your great suffering has ended and you stand again in peace, then you will possess a deeper strength and understanding. You will be more than you were. And your heart will be great, guiding you with wisdom and knowledge.
. . . The battle is beyond the flesh, my son. Our victory has already been promised, an end made sure. Cling to what you have learned, and it will be life for you when death (the attacker) is near. Be strong. Be courageous. Do what you know is right.”