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The Treasure of the Struggle

Journaling reveals purpose in the pain.

There is a certain peace that comes from looking back at times of pain, suffering, and heartache. The memory of those moments when I felt like I wouldn’t survive, or my marriage wouldn’t survive, or my kids would never speak to me again. I remember thinking I was going to end up fired from my job.

Christ is revealed in my weakness. 2 Cor. 12:9

I enjoy journaling, not necessarily for the enjoyment in the current moment, but because I know I am storing up hope for when future struggles come – and they will come. I love to hear speakers with motivational stories. Ever notice that when they speak, they tell stories of struggles they went through and how there was victory on the other side of the pain? I remember one who was speaking on the subject of financing an education with little or no out of pocket and absolutely no incurred debt, a.k.a. student loans. His education, all the way through an associate degree, to bachelor's degree, and master’s was covered by working, keeping living expenses as low as humanly possible, and applying for every scholarship for which he could possibly qualify. Some of those were very small amounts and some covered a good deal of a semester or an academic year. All the little victories totaled up to a huge financial blessing in the end.

Another speaker I recall shared the struggle of he and his wife through their daughter’s addiction. Countless nights they didn’t know where she was or even if she was alive. All their praying felt like it was bouncing off the ceiling as they waited for the phone to ring, hoping she would be calling home. Praying the door would open and she would be home. Until that one night when she did finally call, in total desperation. They were finally able to bring her home and she got her body clean of drugs, her faith restored, and she was (at the time of the speech) very involved in ministry to help others with addictions.

There is testimony in the struggle. THAT is the treasure! Some are able to show the fruit of their struggle while others can only share with words. An athlete can prove by their strength, speed, or agility all the hours they spent sweating, all the time sacrificed away from friends and enjoyable outings. Their physique displays the reward of resistance training (more than just resisting a slice of chocolate cake), and dedication to improving themselves a little more every single day.

There have been seasons of sleepless nights and gut-wrenching days. Thankfully, I can say these seasons become fewer and their lifespans are shorter as life goes on and I learn from past hurt. I can look in the mirror, seeing and feeling scars that remind me of injury and pain. I flip through albums with photos and newspaper clippings, remembrance of good and sad times, weddings, funerals, births, first days of school, birthdays, graduations. I look at one of my grown children and recall the many appointments, collaborating with professionals through developmental delays. I see the adult before me and am amazed at all God has done. I have more than three decades of memories with my husband after a long military career and praise God for all the lonely nights that have now ended. I am able to walk with other military spouses to help them find peace in their lonelier moments. One child who was ready to escape the grasp of us is now a very big part of our lives and we are a part of theirs and their children. God is good when we keep on being faithful to Him, and even when we stray – He is faithful to keep His promises.

I will testify of the pain. 2 Cor. 11:30

I uncover spiral bound pages, run my finger along the tearstained marks and memories go from gray to full color. Sights, sounds, smells, and pain – first struggle, then joy. Even when I didn’t transcribe the end of the act as it played out in my life, I remember. The pain wasn’t the end. The pain was the process that brought me to the pleasure. My treasure.

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity...." Jer. 29:11-14a

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