One of our favorite restaurants in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, is a little Italian bistro called Angelo’s. My bride and I love to visit this place to have a nice night of relaxation with a great dining experience.
During our last trip I notice a very peculiar thing in front of the entrance area. The beautiful Petunia plants in the planter box were in full bloom, adding to the ambiance of the landscape. But the thing that struck me most was a little plant that had sprung-up from a seed of the host plant and located itself in a little cement crack below the wood flower bed. I paused to take a picture and reflect about the struggle this little plant had to endure in such an unforgiving environment. How did that seed find enough soil to get the nutrients it needed to survive? With all the foot traffic around this parking stall, how is it that it wasn’t trampled by other patrons? How did this plant get enough water in the middle of summer to continue growing?
This plant is indicative of several people I’ve had the privilege of knowing. They grow where they are planted and succeed regardless of the environment or circumstances they face. They encounter trials and tribulations but survive to fight another day. When so many people today are negative and disheartened about life, it is encouraging to meet survivors who can’t wait to see the good that each day brings.
Some of these folks have gone through the challenges divorce brings. Others are fighting debilitating diseases or sicknesses. The people who have daily worries about a wayward child or distraught sibling have their trials. But despite their adversities, people can choose to live a victorious life.
Paul described his struggles with sin and how we should judge it in lives. He describes his struggle:
You see, apart from the law, sin lies dormant. There was a time when I was living without the law, but the commandment came and changed everything; sin came to life, and I died… It was sin that killed me, not the law. It’s the nature of sin to produce death through what is good and exploit the commandments to multiply sin’s vile effects… But now I am no longer the one acting — I’ve lost control — sin has taken up residence in me and is wreaking havoc… I am thankful to God for this freedom that comes through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One! Therefore, now no condemnation awaits those who are living in Jesus the Anointed, The Liberating King, because when you live in the Anointed The law of the Spirit of life breathes into you and liberates you from the law of sin and death.” (Excerpts from Romans 7–8 The Voice Bible.)
Most believers constantly strive to do good. Both Paul’s struggles of chapter 7 and the deliverance of chapter 8 are true and real in the believer’s journey. Though Paul spoke autobiographically of the tensions of life as he experienced them, it remains apparent that he spoke by implication for all who have the struggle and need for God’s enablement and blessing.
Paul painted for the readers a picture of the Christian life with all its anguish and its simultaneous hopefulness. This is the ongoing struggle with which believers are involved throughout their lives. Deliverance is promised. Victory is sure, but it is an eschatological hope.
In life, like the little plant in the cement, we struggle with things that are contrary. There are times when we are up against it and life is a desperate struggle with ourselves, with our circumstances, with our temptations, with our sorrows, with our decisions. At such a time no man need struggle alone, for Jesus comes to him across the storms of life, with hand stretched out to save, and with His calm clear voice bidding us take heart and — have no fear.
Write down your struggles, concerns, temptations, sorrows, and decisions that are conflictive. Seek out God’s Word, wise counsel, and allow the Holy Spirit to inspire your soul so that you can see a clear way through the problem. Re-visit that list a week or a month from now and see how God has provided a way through the storm.
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Men’s Ministry Catalyst produces a newsletter for pastors and church leaders. Would you take a minute to review our latest letter and send it to some of your church leaders? Thank you.
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Jim Grassi, D. Min.