Struggle. It’s a yucky word. It is an overwhelming word. It reeks of battle and blood and hurt and destruction and rope burns and violence. It also feels like loneliness and despair, if we let it. But struggle is a verb, not a noun. It is not something we are and it does not define us or describe us. It is something moving, something we move through, something we process. This is important to me because it changes my focus in the midst of struggle.
The dictionary definition of struggle is: to contend with an adversary or opposing force. So to struggle is to do something, to fight against something, to move through something, to deal with something and then move on. Yes, it is yucky and can feel like a battle and can burn and hurt and tear us open, but it is not forever and maybe, just maybe, our focus while contending with the struggle can change how we act in the midst as well as who we are on the other side.
The book of Job is the epitome of human struggle. I mean seriously, Job lost EVERYTHING, and was told by his closest advisors that it was his fault. Job, however, through it all, maintained his focus on his belief in God and God’s role in Job’s life. There is amazing imagery in Job that describes his focus in the midst of struggle and my favorite is the description of a miner. Job 28:3-4 says, “A miner puts an end to the darkness; he probes the deepest recesses for ore in the gloomy darkness. He cuts a shaft far from human habitation in places unknown to those who walk above ground.” And in Job 28:10 it says, “He cuts out channels in the rocks, and his eyes spot every treasure.”
Mining is a dangerous, dirty, strenuous, and dark job. Have you ever tried to cut into a rock? I conjure up images of miners that have emerged from the deepest recesses, with black marks all over their face and squinting from the light that they have become unaccustomed to during their time inside. But while they are inside, they look for that sparkling, glistening ore, and that is their singular focus. They have to, right? If they didn’t maintain that focus, they could get lost in the darkness.
During struggle we learn the most about our belief. We learn what our focus is, positive or negative. What if we approached our struggle with the singular focus of a miner? What if we hunkered down and looked for that sparkling, glistening thing that is available to us as a result of the struggle? For me, that makes a difference in how I feel during struggle. Now, I can’t say that I love struggle and it is wonderful to think of what I will find in the darkness of struggle. But I can say that when I take the time to focus on the crack of light in the distance and not on the overwhelming idea of the struggle itself, my heart is much better.
Where we place our focus in the midst of struggle and whether we treat our struggle as a verb or as a noun shows others the strength of our faith. Even if we feel as if our head is barely above the waves, our focus on the crack of light, provided by our faith in God, will keep the struggle in perspective, not as a noun but as a verb.
By His Grace