Reframe Your Struggles

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Fuel the Faith of Others
People in your life start taking notice and will starting asking questions about your faith when you are faithful in the midst of your struggles. There is something that catches the attention of others when they see that you still trust God, you still lean into God, you're still allowing God to grow you and make you strong, and you're allowing God to use that struggle for his glory. A faith that transcends circumstances can impact people in a way that no sermon ever could. It doesn't mean that you have all the answers for whatever you are going through, but instead, you trust that God will continue providing the right people in the right way at the right time because he cares about you. When that starts happening, your struggle becomes an opportunity to fuel other people's faith.  Nothing outside of your Heavenly Father can carry the weight of your struggles. Your spouse cannot carry the weight. Your friendships cannot carry the weight. Job security will not carry the weight. Money in the bank will not carry the weight. There is only one person who can carry the weight, and he wants to be in the midst of your struggle. Despite how things may feel in your life, God is not distant and he has not left you alone to deal with your struggles. He knows you're struggling. He knows the weight you carry. He knows the distance you feel. You are his, he loves you, and he's for you.  Reflection/Discussion Question: Who is someone in your life who you have an opportunity to fuel their faith? How can you do this better than you currently are?
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See God Clearly
When the gospel is alive inside of you, people around you will start taking notice. As Paul shows us through his example in the book of Philippians, the gospel is just as powerful when you're chained to a guard as when you're on the streets leading people to Jesus. Even though being chained to a guard in prison is not a place that Paul would have chosen for himself, it demonstrated to a lot of people that God's plans were better than Paul's plans. God's plans are always better than anything that we could plan for ourselves. When people see that we are following God’s plan even when it goes against worldly logic or our own human desires, we are displaying a strong and powerful faith that can’t help but impact others around us. Paul saw struggles as opportunities to fuel the faith of others. In verse 14 of Philippians 1, he says, “And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.” Paul certainly had other plans for this time of ministry, but he was able to reframe and reset his attitude and expectations around what was truly going to be best in order to bring more people to know Christ. Paul’s demonstration of his confidence and hope being in God during his struggles and hard times changed the way people viewed their own circumstances and Christianity as a whole. Reflection/Discussion Question: Who in your life has demonstrated a willingness to accept and embrace God’s plan, even if it was very different than their own?
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Internal Character
Admitting that we don’t have things together and can’t handle things on our own is never easy for most of us. Where do you turn when you finally get to the point where you realize you can’t handle your struggles on your own? When is the last time you’ve said “God, I don't have it” in the middle of something difficult? We need to lean into God and his Word in these moments. When we do this, in Christ, we can endure and go through things that we never thought we could. The Holy Spirit inside of you can make you strong and allow you to face down things that those without the Spirit could not. You are a son or daughter of the Most-High King and as such, you have every resource available to you that Jesus had. When you start getting in the habit of reframing your perspective on what you have available inside of you, then you start to recognize that you are actually internally what you claim and long to be externally. And that gives us hope during our struggles; we can be strong and confident in the face of difficulties.  If you'll trust God with the weight, lean into his presence, take him up his Word, and understand who you really are, then you’ll start doing things and being able to carry things that you never dreamt possible. You're going to start recognizing that, even when things go wrong and everything else seems to be crumbling, you still know who you are and you know who God is. You start having this confidence and strong expectation of what God can do. So, your struggle becomes an opportunity for God to grow something powerful inside of you. Reflection/Discussion Question: When in your life have you experienced God growing you in the midst of your struggles?
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Something Powerful Inside of You
Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, describes suffering as this pressing weight that comes on you. Life has a way of doing this crazy thing, especially if you are following Jesus, where the little weights that you feel like you can handle begin to feel like million-pound weight on your shoulders. Paul knows that struggles can just feel as if they’re overwhelming or crushing you. But Paul wants the readers to know that this suffering is going lead them to perseverance.  When the weight of struggles and difficulties come on you, when you lean into God, when you find yourself at the end of yourself and you rely the power of the Holy Spirit, when you're walking in the way of the King, then something happens inside of you where God starts building you into something stronger than you ever dreamed. Those things that seem like they were just weighing you down, start becoming like weight training. They become the things that start building you up.  We never go through struggles without God being aware and present throughout them. In our free will, we have the choice to either lean into him or walk away when things in life start to get really tough, which they do for all of us at some point. God designed us and yearns for us to come to him when struggles and suffering occur to he can lighten the weight and use those experiences to strengthen you and build you into a warrior of his Word and his mission.  Reflection/Discussion Question: When you go through struggles, do you tend to lean into God or try to handle things on your own?