Hope in Struggles

This developing character process can exhaust us in the daily grind. How many times do parents repeat instructions about saying “please” and “thank you”? Don’t try to keep track, even for a day. Just do it because that’s what a trainer does! 

With the recent Olympics in Rio, haven’t we watched the grueling preparations athletes endure to gain the right to be there? Many train years to compete in races that last a matter of minutes. 

In contrast, we are being trained by the Lord and are charged with sharing that training with future generations (Psalm 78).

“Do you not know that in a race, all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we, an imperishable.” I Cor. 9:24-5 ESV

Almost 40 years ago, a friend and I chatted after having dropped off our boys at pre-school. In frustration she asked me,”Why must I teach my children the right thing to do over and over again, but my parents can walk into the house, drop an empty beer bottle into the trash one time, and my child immediately walks over to drain the dregs? My husband and I don’t even drink!” 

I could offer only one thought then: after Eden, people went toward evil. In an attempt to curb evil, the priestly laws taught that merely touching anything(one) deemed unclean required a cleansing process. See Leviticus 14 for examples. Touching once defiled. 

In contrast, though God led Israel through the wilderness with repeated miracles, the book of Exodus described His people as “stiff-necked.” Follow the book of Judges to see that humans are easily drawn away from a good God despite His repeatedly bailing us out! Follow Judges’ pattern: We fall away, He allows us to suffer consequences, we return to the Lord, He shows mercy.

So, where’s the hope, the prize that keeps us in training and keeps us teaching future generations? Jude, the one-chapter book written by Jesus’ half brother, highlights divine encouragement. “But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.” Jude 20-21. The Light of the World offers us new mercies each morning that we may fight the good fight. Do not grow weary.

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