I recently conducted a Professional Development session on the concept of Productive Struggle. Within education, it is the practice of allowing students to struggle through appropriately leveled problems so that they learn to problem solve, learn to persevere, learn to think for themselves and become independent.
While these are all necessary and valued life skills, our culture often undermines them. We celebrate “the naturals”, when things come easy, and how great it is to get it right first try! This transforms into an attitude of entitlement, a negative perspective toward struggle, and lack of perseverance and self-responsibility.
I see this within the community of faith as well. Life should be easy, problem free, and all about my comfort. But that’s not reality in this fallen world. Life is hard. Trials wreck us. Death, disease and brokenness blindside us.
Yet when I look at nature I see God’s plan.
The butterfly must fight its way out of the chrysalis to gain the strength to fly.
The sprout must push through the soil, gaining the strength needed to support the bloom.
Our muscles will atrophy without the challenge of exercise to keep them healthy, growing and strong.
Why do we look at challenges as negative things?
What if we viewed trials as gift-wrapped presents from God?
Sure the gift wrap isn’t pretty! Cancer is ugly. Grief is brutal. Broken relationships hurt.
But if we realized that wrapped within that cancer, that grief, that pain comes the opportunity to experience God like never before, then we are not overcome by the challenge. Rather, it is overcome by us!
We can move into and through the trial with hope, expectancy, and trust.
For the God who overcame death, who displayed His power in raising Jesus from the dead, is in control of the challenge we face. His power works on our behalf. His power empowers us to keep the faith, to keep perspective, to extend grace, to forgive, to maintain intimacy in God’s presence despite the surroundings.
I know so many as of late who have been handed ugly wrapped gifts they don’t want to receive. But I can testify, that God will truly use it as a gift as we press into Him. You will be strengthened as a sprout, able to support the bloom of His glory in your life.
May the words of the song encourage…
“No fear catches Him by surprise… Find rest, My Soul. Put your hope in God.”
Know I’m praying for you!
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds. James 1:2
Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. James 1:12
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 ad honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:6-7