Struggles that Strengthen
By Maria Fontaine
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The Lord knows that encouragement is very important to us, and He wants to give us a lot of it. Encouragement plays a key role in helping us to keep going, even when we feel like quitting. Encouragement is one of the greatest pick-me-ups—and when it comes from the Lord, I’d say it’s the greatest. God’s encouragement helps us to know that we’re not alone, that He understands what we’re facing‚ and that if we just hold on a little longer, we will make it.
God’s Word covers a variety of topics, but sometimes you just need to read something that’s pure encouragement and that provides you with an extra boost when you’re feeling down. The beauty of God’s Word is that whether it fits your situation to a T, or the principles are applicable‚ or you can adapt the concept to your situation, or the Lord uses it to speak to you about something completely unrelated, or it gives you more compassion or understanding of others—it’s going to benefit you. There is always something priceless to be gained from reading God’s Word, if you pray, as King David did, “Open Thou my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law.”1
I pray that the following message of encouragement in prophecy will be words spoken at just the right time for you, like “apples of gold in pictures of silver.”2
You can read the stories of any of My great men and women from the past, anyone who has served Me, and you’ll see that none of them led lives of ease. Every one of them fought against the Enemy and against the difficulties that an unbelieving world threw at them for the duration of their lives. It seemed to them at times that I didn’t always answer their prayers, or that I allowed things to be rougher on them than they thought they could bear. But it was those rough times and those obstacles that caused them to burn so brightly for Me, and that have made them an enduring example of dedication and love for Me, from those days till now, and beyond into eternity.
“In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”3 This earth life includes times of hardship and pain, difficulty and loss, struggle and hard effort. If all the friction were removed and you could glide effortlessly through life, that wouldn’t be earth. That would be heaven. Heaven is My kingdom, where perfection can be realized and where there are no disappointments. But earth is a battlefield. It is a place where you will experience hardship and heartbreak, pain and tears.
You are shining My light in this world despite all the difficulties you face, and for this I will someday greatly exalt you. But don’t be surprised that on earth it’s difficult. Everyone who has done anything of value for Me has found it so. It’s always going to seem difficult while you try to live for Me in the world.
In heaven I will make everything perfect. But not on earth. Not yet. It is not the time. To answer each of your prayers in the way you wish, and to resolve every situation, and to remove every thorn, would not fulfill the purpose for which you’re on earth.
A key to facing times of testing is to remember that I never promised smooth sailing, but I do promise to get you through the storm. Let the tests propel you through the storm and help you to be a support and blessing to others, because you have been in their shoes and know what it’s like.
It’s the struggle that strengthens you. What you see as your struggle, I see as your glory. I want to draw you closer to Me and comfort you. I want to encourage you and tell you that I am so proud of you for keeping the faith and remaining faithful to Me. There is great pain on earth‚ but great reward in heaven. There is great sacrifice on earth, but great glory in heaven. At times there is confusion and doubt‚ but someday you will see Me face to face and you will know fully, even as you are known.4
Have courage and know that I am always here for you. I promise that I will never allow you to be crushed beneath the load. My grace will be sufficient for you. I will bring you victorious through the storms and tribulation of this life. Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world!
Battles and problems you will always have with you in this life‚ but victory comes through looking to Me. Trust Me and believe, no matter what circumstances you find yourself in, even when you do not understand. Remember, if you believe, all things are possible to him that believes.5
Moses did not understand how I would help him make it through the Red Sea. Gideon had no idea how I would help him to win the battle with only 300 men. Noah had zero understanding of boats; he didn’t even know what a boat was, and it took him 120 years to find out. He couldn’t see the end picture when he started recording the dimensions for that ship. He had no idea what the end would be. He simply followed Me one day at a time, one step at a time. He refused to give up, or give in to the crowds who were mocking him. He fixed his eyes on Me and kept them there. That’s how he made it through 120 long years—taking things one day at a time, by faith alone.
Make the most of your life on earth. Learn to count it all joy and honor when you experience battles and trials.6 You can overcome. You can make it. You’ve come this far by faith‚ so don’t give up. Keep going for Me. Keep fighting the good fight of faith. You can do it.
What a wonderful God we have—he is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the source of every mercy, and the one who so wonderfully comforts and strengthens us in our hardships and trials. And why does he do this? So that when others are troubled, needing our sympathy and encouragement, we can pass on to them this same help and comfort God has given us. You can be sure that the more we undergo sufferings for Christ, the more he will shower us with his comfort and encouragement.
We are in deep trouble for bringing you God’s comfort and salvation. But in our trouble God has comforted us—and this, too, to help you: to show you from our personal experience how God will tenderly comfort you when you undergo these same sufferings. He will give you the strength to endure.—2 Corinthians 1:3–77
Originally published March 2007. Adapted and republished June 2014.
Read by Carol Andrews.
1 Psalm 119:18.
2 Proverbs 25:11.
3 John 16:33.
4 1 Corinthians 13:12.
5 Mark 9:23.
6 James 1:2.