Refined or Defined?

The struggle is real, for real!!!  1 Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walking about, seeking whom he may devour.  How many of us all struggle daily with feelings of failure, anxiety, worry, fear and/or despair?  How many of us struggle in silence just waiting and hoping for it go away?  Often when we find ourselves in one of these situations, we feel weighted down or feel the mountain is too high to climb.  The situation feels hopeless.  We isolate so others don’t see what our struggles are or because we are embarrassed by our feelings.   We feel shame that we don’t have it all together.  With all this mix of emotions, it is hard to know what to do next.   Not even those of us who have been saved for years are immune to finding ourselves in these struggles.  Every season of life brings different struggles, and they are real to each of us.  They are sure as the sun will rise every day.  We can let these struggles define us or refine us.   

1 Peter 1:6-7  So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while.  These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So, when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

How do we allow our struggles to refine us and how do we find joy during them?

  1. Draw near to God and resist the devil.  James 4:7-8 Submit yourselves therefore God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.  GO TO CHURCH.  This is the place where God corrects, heals, and refines us through worship and prayer with the people of God.  Spend time alone and corporately in prayer seeking Him.  Read the Word of God.  Pray in the name of Jesus against all the attacks of the devil.  
  2. Focus on what God is doing to refine you versus focusing on how you can make the struggle go away faster.  We must allow God to do his work in us NO MATTER how painful it might be.  Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.  
  3. Share your struggles with others and don’t isolate.  Isolation opens a door for the enemy to easily take hold.  Sharing with other trusted friend(s) allows others to encourage, pray for you, and remind you of the character of God and His faithfulness and deliverance.  Sharing removes the shame, embarrassment, and weight on you.  Sharing your struggle shows God’s power and glory.  Galatians 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 
  4. Find Joy.  Psalm 16:11 In His presence is fullness of joy.  Through the years I have been a Christian, I have experienced these seasons and by doing these 4 things, I have always found joy.  It has not always been on my timeline and that’s okay because I have my faith, hope, and joy in Christ alone and in His timing.  

No matter the struggle and our understanding of it, we all have a choice to make.  We can continue to stay in our state of fear, anxiety, worry, and despair allowing it to define our lives, or we can choose to find the joy knowing that God is working in our lives refining us. 

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