The Struggle Is Real

For those of you that know me, you know that I am a sports fanatic. It’s pretty much all I watch on TV. Growing up with two athletic older brothers planted the seeds early. I love the drama of competition, the unpredictability and the life lessons that can be learned.
A few weeks ago, I went to the women’s NCAA basketball Final Four in Tampa. During the championship game, Baylor’s best player and floor general went down with a serious injury at the end of the 3rd quarter. It was awful. We were on the other end of the arena and could hear her crying out in pain. It’s one of the few things I hate about sports – injuries.

Having been an athlete myself, I can tell you it’s difficult to come back from injury, even minor injuries. Pain can do serious damage to the psyche. It makes you tentative and uncertain when you try to come back. You want nothing more than to be the same player you were before the injury – to play at the same level and move in the same ways. Sometimes, though, that isn’t possible. If they play a team sport, the truly great athletes find other ways to contribute, and in some cases become better players BECAUSE of their injury.

“He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.”

Last week, I read a story about a group studying the book of Malachi. They came across Malachi 3: 3 which says, “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.” One person decided to learn more about the process of refining silver in order to understand the character of God a little better. She made an appointment to watch a silversmith work and learned three things:

1.) the silversmith holds the silver over the hottest part of the flame in order to burn away all the impurities;
2.) the silversmith keeps his eyes on the silver the entire time because if the silver is left in the flame for a second too long, it becomes damaged; and
3.) the silversmith knows the silver is fully refined when he can see his reflection in it.

These two seemingly unrelated stories made me think about our trials in life. Difficult times have the power to change us for the better or for worse, depending on how we respond to them. We struggle to return to being that same person we were before the struggle, but I don’t think God wants that for us. He wants us to be different. To be better. To be more reliant on Him. To have more faith in the promises He has for us. To have our wisdom expanded. If we come back the same, we haven’t learned anything about who God is or who we are in Him.

God has His eye on you…

I myself have been dealing with some difficult health problems for the last five months. This blog post marks the first time in over five months that I’ve had the cognitive ability to make connections and string them together into coherent thought. It has made me realize that I’ve been so caught up in the physical aspects of my struggle that I’ve been missing what God wants to reveal to me.

Struggle is a part of life – we all have them. If you are going through something right now, remember this: God has His eye on you even though it may feel like He has abandoned you in your struggle. I promise you He hasn’t. He wants the best of everything for us, but sometimes the best of everything comes just after the darkest part of the night.

jp_headshotJen is a Connecticut transplant by way of Williamsport, PA and Washington, DC. She has spent the majority of her career in the arts and volunteers in various capacities at Black Rock Church, in Fairfield, CT. Although writing has been more of personal outlet for Jen, God has given her opportunities in the past year to publish some of her writing, including a series of internal posts for Black Rock’s Read It, Live It initiative and now, on The Path I Follow.

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