Blog 365 · Whispers of Faith

In the Struggle, There is Holiness

Some days are just hard. Some days the tears slip down over my morning mug of tea as my heart struggles, and I wonder – why? What’s the purpose? Why must I have temptations to fight against, why must I ward off loneliness and old memories and dead dreams and lack of compassion, why must I feel the weight of being imperfect upon my shoulders?

And suddenly a picture came to mind – a picture from several summers ago, sitting in my mama’s backyard garden, early morning sunshine washing over me as I hugged my knees and whispered the same prayers of struggle to a Heavenly Father. Yet the memory was tinged with peace, not the bruised and battered heart that I knew was my then-struggle.

Another picture came to mind – a huge spreading tree in an English sheep pasture, sitting at the base with journal in hand, tears streaming down my face.

Another one – a dirt road on a mountain top washed in a sunrise, decorated with daisies on the edges, a girl with bare feet and questions in her heart, face uplifted to the rising sun.

Another one – the end of a couch lit by lamplight after everyone else had gone to bed and it was only the quiet insecurities of a freshman girl left.

These were all moments of struggle in my life (only a few of the many) – and yet all of their memories end with the sweetest peace of being wrapped tightly in my Father’s arms. I was never alone in any of those moments, difficult as they may have been. I had a hundred questions about things in my life that I didn’t understand, which I feverishly wrote about in my journal till my hand hurt. But now I see the answer gently written in a script I couldn’t see at the time – His answer was to give me Himself.

In those times of struggle in my life, God was using them to pull me closer to Him than I had ever been before. He was teaching me not to understand the whys of the struggles themselves, but to put my full trust in Him despite the lack of understanding. And when a daughter puts her trust in her father, their relationship grows exponentially.

Yet there are still days where the struggle against the temptations of my own heart is intense, and I despair of ever overcoming them. My mind grows exhausted in its fight to cling to truth, and I just want it all to be over and the freedom of heaven to be mine. If God called me to walk with Him, then why would He allow me to struggle against that which is so contrary to Him?

The answer is found directly in the pages of Scripture – the very chapter that I set out to memorize this summer – Hebrews 12.

“Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (Heb. 12:10-11)

What I overlook and forget time and again is that in the struggle, there is holiness to be found. I can’t see it at the moment, but the end goal is to make me holy – and I can’t attain that unless I struggle through that which is not holy. The Bible clearly says that it will be painful. But it also promises that it won’t last. That there is a reward of righteousness and peace for those who are faithful.

And when I feel like I just can’t be faithful anymore? He who called me IS faithful to complete the work He started in me. Even when my fingers are slipping, His hold is ever sure, ever stronger.

I keep these little scraps of paper around my house with verses scratched on them to remind me in my times of wavering to stay strong:

“From the ends of the earth I call to You, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For You have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. I long to dwell in Your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of Your wings. Then will I ever sing praise to Your name and fulfill my vows day after day.” (Psalm 60: 2-4, 8)

“For when You did awesome things that we did not expect, You came down and the mountains trembled before You. Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides You, who acts on behalf of those who wait for You. You come to the help of those who gladly do right, who remember Your ways.” (Isaiah 64:3-5)

I’m not the first to feel my heart growing faint or my foot slipping. The writers of the Bible felt it, too. And their testimonies are sweet with life-giving encouragement – because they bring me back to the truth of who God is. And that truth will always prevail over the lies of the devil.

So when I feel the weight of the struggle heavy upon me, all I can do is bow my knees and worship. All I can do is lift my eyes to heaven and put my trust in the One who will rescue me. He will do awesome things that I did not expect. He will come to my help, and He will honor the fight, no matter how fierce.

He is making me holy even when it feels like I’m collapsing … He is refining me even as I feel weary. He sees the end of this pilgrim pathway, and in His strength alone will I make it to the end. He the perfect One covers my imperfections with His sacrifice, and it is this love that allows me to move forward.

This pathway’s name is holiness. It may be flaming and dangerous, but it is the only pathway to bring me home to Christ. And that alone is worth every step of the way.

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