Seasons of struggle are no fun at all.
Throughout college, when these seasons occur I’ve always found comfort in my sweet community of friends. They’ve never failed to push me towards God’s truths rather than the lies I’m so easily tempted to believe. But lately, with graduation getting closer and closer, it seems like we all are having seasons of struggle at the same time and I don’t really know what to do with it.
Recently when I told some trusted confidants this I tried to use a shipwreck illustration to make my point but a) it was entirely too dramatic and b) I know nothing about boats so it didn’t really work. I’ll spare you the details here, but what I have realized is thankfully this isn’t a shipwreck.
If we think about it, though, this scenario is a bit overwhelming. If when we hurt we lean on our friends and close community of believers, what do we do when that community is hurting too? We’ve all got burdens, we’re all facing fears, and we’re all in need of some serious faith strengthening.
I’ve felt like this has been the case lately, and it’s caused me to take the approach of carrying my troubles myself, fearing that since we are all hurting we’ve all got enough of our own to think about.
I’ll confess right now that has been the absolute wrong approach.
I’ve found that too often when we let ourselves sit in our own thoughts for long, things get a little out of hand. The lies and temptations too easily turn into depression and addictions, and before we know it we’re all alone and worse for it. That’s why the community exists, to remind us that we are not alone. Even in our struggles, we are not alone.
If you grew up in the church, you know this verse well—
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 2 Peter 5.8
But notice the rest of it, notice that we are able to stand firm in our faith through struggle because other Christians have and are doing so, and because all of us together are called to do so for the glory of God the Father through Christ Jesus, who himself also suffered—
“Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 5.9-10
In this season of transition and scary unknowns, my heart needs this faith. This faith to get through each day slowly and intentionally, to not forget but rather soak up and graciously live each moment fully. This faith heals, this faith fulfills, this faith provides. Just like the God it so undeniably proclaims.
So let’s stand firm in our faith, together. For we are not as alone as we so often feel, not even close. Personally, I know one day I will look back on these people and this season and wistfully remember the sweet community we had. I know that the way I’ve been acting lately won’t do that justice, so by the Spirit’s promptings, I’m changing things. I’m sharing my fears and my darkness and not letting the enemy have that power.
Because that’s what I’ve realized, that Satan gets some kind of sick and twisted power in me keeping things shut up, it’s ridiculous. When I refrain from the community God has given me, and I refrain from acknowledging those things I tend to keep in the dark, I’m refraining from letting His light win. And it has won.
“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.” Ephesians 5.8-13
Sometimes I think it is easy to keep these things in the dark because we fail to recognize them as just what they are— fears and lies that are the opposite of goodness, righteousness and truth. My sweet fellowship of friends gave me a prayer to adopt and it’s one I want to share with you too.
Let’s begin to ask the Father to show us the fears and darkness that we are tempted to fall into without even realizing it. Because I mean really, the enemy’s prowling around like a roaring lion seems to be much much quieter and sneakier in our lives that are so noisy and loud and busy. We seem to give him plenty of space to creep when we are so distracted. So let’s ask God to help us catch those things, to bring them to light, and to seek to replace them with His truth—from Scripture, from His Spirit’s witness to our hearts, from the fellowship of solid believers He’s given us.
Sure, it’s embarrassing and messy to realize the lies we are so easily tempted to believe, but that’s where we can have each other’s backs in this. We’ve got to help put away that gross mess, those embarrassing falsehoods, and speak truth into each other’s lives like He’s so perfectly set out for us to do.
“Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.” -Ephesians 4.25
I know myself, I can’t do it alone. Thankfully it doesn’t really seem like any of us are supposed to be able to. We are members one of another, strengthened by our faith in our great God who has got it all under control. So let’s remind each other of that every once in a while, shall we?
About the Author
Rachel is Sarah Tarleton’s sister and is currently a senior in her last semester at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, AR. She grew up as an MK in Russia, and after graduation she is excited to start a new adventure and head back overseas, this time to Asia, where she will be teaching English to university students. Rachel loves investing in women; she can’t tell a story to save her life; and despite being an incredibly picky eater growing up, she has become quite the foodie and can’t get enough of Asian cuisine in particular.