When Life is a Struggle

What do you do when your life is a struggle?  How do you continue your ministry when all the joy is drained out of your service?  Sometimes circumstances out of your control can make life seem unbearable.  I remember the first major struggle in my ministry.  I was hurt, confused and so frustrated because every attempt I made to improve things just didn’t work.  What then?  Whether it is conflict with coworkers, frustration with those you are called to serve, health issues, or family struggles…life can seem like a burden too heavy to carry.

I can remember times of struggle when I didn’t even want to get up in the morning I just wanted to keep sleeping so I wouldn’t have to face the trials of the upcoming day.  There are times in our life when Satan, the world and our own sinful self make life and ministry a painful battle.  When just going back to work is the triumph of the day or not breaking down in tears is your goal for the morning, we might be tempted to think that God just doesn’t care about our hurt.  Maybe He is just too busy help us out today…perhaps our trouble isn’t important enough for Him to pay attention to..maybe He just doesn’t notice us.  We know He cares about eternal matters such as our salvation–but perhaps He just doesn’t care much about our day to day troubles.

At a particularly tough time in my life, I was beginning to doubt God’s concern about my struggles.  I sat in a coffee shop thinking through my life.  As I went up to the counter and tried to choose which flavor of coffee to sit back down with, a stranger came up to me and recommended his favorite brew.  He was friendly enough and we small talked while adding cream and sugar to our cups.  Before I left he handed me a blank business card with only two statements on it.  “If it matters to you, it matters to Him.  Cast all your anxiety on Him for He cares about you.”  I stuck the card in my purse and walked outside.  Two blocks later I saw the same phrase on an LCMS church display board:  “If it matters to you, It matters to Him.”

Just because it’s printed on a card or displayed on a church sign doesn’t mean it’s true, so I began to think through Bible verses.  I knew that God cared about my salvation, but did it really matter to Him that I was hurting?  Does God care about my temporal, earthly struggles?  This is what I found in His Word:

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:6-7)

“The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them.”  (Exodus 2:23-25)

“Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.”  (Matthew 15:32)

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”  (1 Peter 5:7)

As God’s loved and forgiven children, we have an eternal hope that gives us a larger perspective on life.  We know that no matter what difficulty we have in this life, our eternity is secure–that is all we really need.  The big thing is set, and yet our loving God gives us little things too!  He cares about our earthly struggles, hurts and frustrations.  He knows us so intimately that He is aware of how many hairs we have!  He hears our groaning, sees our hungers, and has compassion on our hurts.  He doesn’t take away all our earthly troubles, He doesn’t fix all our frustrations–but they matter to Him.  Knowing that He is with us and will help us doesn’t make our pain go away, but it can give us hope and guidance.  His concern isn’t a way out–it’s a way through.

Thank you for caring about my struggles and hurts.  Thank you for letting my little life matter to you.  Your love is far more intimate and tender than I could ever imagine.  Please help me through the struggles I have at work, at home and in the ministry you have given me.  Please walk beside me as I face pain, hurt and rejection.  Thank you that I matter to you and that you hear me!  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Published March 9, 2006

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