Chapters Of Struggle

We say, “If I can’t do it right, I won’t do it at all!” No, before you get it right you’ll probably get it wrong. In every story of success there are chapters of struggle, but they are chapters of learning and growth. —Jentzen Franklin

I wish, when I came back to the church (a returned prodigal) someone had said to me, “Some parts of this Jesus-journey are going to be really great, but some are as confusing as all get out. And get ready, because some parts of this journey are only the first raindrop in a roaring hurricane.

Let’s tell the truth. Grace will lead you down some strange paths. Grace will introduce you to some people you’ll wish you’d never met.

And occasionally, Grace will drop you off a cliff (just like that mama eagle) so you can find your wings and learn to fly!

You see, Grace enjoys the eternal view of things.

And from the perspective of heaven, the chapters of struggle, are the point.

(We really do need to tell baby Christians the truth.)

Yeah, there will be joy—but mostly, there will be struggle. And you are just going to have to make up your mind to trust your Teacher and Guide, set your face like a flint, and keep on truckin’—because it’s all part of the “learning-and-growing-in-grace” plan.

And honestly, lot’s of days you’ll want to quit; resign from the club.

But it’s not an option—ever.

Jesus said He would always be with us. And to seal the deal He gave us The Holy Spirit to get us to our finish line, so let’s take heart, for this too, shall pass.

We have to choose between fear and faith all the time.

On those days when everything would go pear-shaped in my life, I used to tell myself,  “You can trust God or go crazy.” and Option “B” (my own label for suicide) is not an option!

Those were the days I’d reach for my Grandfather’s hymn book, sit in my Boston rocker, and sing until my tears would finally stop flowing.

There was a hymn that would get me through those days.

It asked me one simple question: Am I A Soldier of the Cross?

My Grandfather fought a different kind of war.

I never knew my Granddad. He died a few months before I was born. (I’ve been told he was a very Godly man.) I think he was. He had to have been, because I have also heard the family stories about his singular courage and faith, and about his very difficult journey through his life.

  • Born one of twelve children—he grew up on a Quaker farm in Pennsylvania.
  • He married a musical artist and had a stormy marriage, that held together, but just barely.
  • He lived through the dark days of the Great Depression and World War II.
  • One of his two sons became very ill early in life, suffered terribly for many years, but never recovered.

An Elder in his church, Granddad was often summoned to pray for others to be healed, and they were. But the agonized prayers he prayed for his own son were never answered in the way he hoped.

  • I am told that to his last day, he could never understand why God answered his miracle-prayers for others, but not those he fervently prayed for my Uncle Bill.
Granddad knew about chapters of struggle.

He was nobody special in the eyes of the world, but he will always be a great hero of mine, because He never stopped trusting in God’s faithfulness. Though he rarely understood how Grace would arrive, or from where, he always believed that it would. He stood on that Rock through every storm.

I like to think that he sang this old hymn, believing that his God would again, bring him through another dark chapter. And some day in heaven, I know we shall laugh together, remembering the struggles and sharing our stories, of how Jesus brought us through.

And there will be no tears there—only great, great joy, for how God used it all.

Granddad is my hero. He was a battle-scarred “Soldier of the Cross” and I am delighted to speak well of him, as I honor his memory.

I know if he were here, he would say to us,

“…weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” Psalm 30: 5

Am I a soldier of the cross,
A follow’r of the Lamb?
And shall I fear to own His cause,
Or blush to speak His name?

Must I be carried to the skies
On flow’ry beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize,
And sailed through bloody seas?

Are there no foes for me to face?
Must I not stem the flood?
Is this vile world a friend to grace,
To help me on to God?

Sure I must fight if I would reign;
Increase my courage, Lord;
I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain,
Supported by Thy Word.

Thy saints in all this glorious war
Shall conquer, though they die;
They see the triumph from afar,
By faith’s discerning eye.

When that illustrious day shall rise,
And all Thy armies shine
In robes of vict’ry through the skies,
The glory shall be Thine.