We All Struggle
I’m pretty sure that it’s a natural lesson you learn with age: we all struggle. During the years of our childhood we are likely consumed with ourselves. Narcissism is all we know when we are born. Then slowly we learn that we are not the center of the universe. (At least, that’s the goal. I suppose there might be people out there who never grasp that!)
I started to learn this lesson in college. I watched tragedy unfold in several friends’ lives, and I noticed that other people had struggles too. During my early adulthood, I began to see that everyone I knew seemed to have a struggle of some sort. There were all sorts of struggles: financial, health, family dysfunction, depression, dissatisfaction with life, insecurity, unmet expectations, relational conflicts–so, so many types of struggles. Every person I came into contact with seemed to have something, no matter how perfect their lives seemed at first glance.
I don’t think this is anything new either.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” – Ephesians 6:12
Not If or When, But You Will Struggle
In the book of Ephesians Paul makes a statement about our struggle. He doesn’t say, “When you struggle,” or “Those who are struggling,” or even “If you find yourself struggling.” He says, “our struggle.” You see, we all have a struggle. We are all in struggle, all of the time.
With what or whom do we struggle? The evil one.
That’s a bit depressing to think about, until we keep reading what Paul says about this.
“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” – Ephesians 6:13
Defense Against the Evil One
God knows we have a struggle against Satan but he does not leave us empty-handed at battle. Through the Holy Spirit, we have the privilege of arming ourselves in the full armor of God. That is something amazing, my friends! We might all have a struggle, but if we are in Christ, we have a strong defense mechanism up our sleeve!
Now, keeping this in mind–that we have a way of defense–there is an amazing truth God has shown me that has given my armor a shiny new coat of strength: Because I know that all Christians are in the war with me against Satan, I can show grace to others.
You see, sometimes I want to be frustrated with others when they disappoint me, but the truth is, they are struggling too. Not against me, but against the devil. The enemy uses relational frustrations as a distraction to lead us to sin. If I’m not careful, I can quickly find myself consumed with the actions of others and become full of judgment. I forget that they are struggling against Satan just as I am. We have the same enemy! If I want to defeat this enemy I must realize I am not the only target of the devil’s schemes.
The truth is, we are imperfect people serving a perfect God, and sometimes we mess up. Your friends mess up. The leaders of your church will mess up. Your family will mess up. The ones you don’t see eye to eye with will mess up. You will mess up. I will mess up. We all mess up, because we are all in a struggle against Satan.
Grace for Each Other
So let’s show some grace to each other! Let’s be slow to anger and quick to forgive. Let’s seek understanding instead of assuming the worst. We might not always understand and that’s why it’s called grace. Grace is given even when we can’t understand why someone does what they do. Grace allows us to look for the best in others.
Now, with this idea of grace for others in mind, let’s read about the full armor of God.
“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” – Ephesians 6:14-18
Without grace we can’t use the armor because we won’t know whom to use it against. When we give others grace, we are able to see the struggle we all have against the evil one.
So remember, sweet sisters, to lavish one another in grace, because we all struggle.