#Thestruggleisreal. Most of us have seen this hashtag make its way around social media. It’s usually used in a sarcastic, humorous way: “I’m out of coffee. #thestruggleisreal” or “My favorite show didn’t record. #thestruggleisreal.”
But there are real-life, tough struggles and we all have them at some point. Sometimes the struggle is significant; sometimes it’s a battle of several things simultaneously. Sometimes there’s a “season” of struggle–unemployment, the end of a marriage–a period of major adjustment where we must learn where to go from there.
And there’s the powerful word…learn.
In our struggles we are presented with unique opportunities to learn—about God and about ourselves. In those moments, we are raw and discover who we are and we’re often surprised to realize how strong we are.
Chronic illness is a struggle, sometimes lifelong. I battle Crohn’s disease. The symptoms are often very limiting, painful, exhausting, and isolating. I’ve been warring against this beast since 1989. That’s an epic battle! During these many years, I’ve seen God put the struggle to good use and even accommodate me along the way, providing a profession that I could perform at home for two decades. He’s placed competent, compassionate physicians in my path, connections and new friends from all over the world who offer mutual empathy and support. Even in this struggle, some blessings have emerged.
Four years ago this month, I was suddenly single. In a swift moment, I went from being a married (for nearly sixteen years) mother of two to being a widowed single mother of two. I became a victim of a violent sexual assault and a widow to suicide all on the same morning…all as a result of someone else’s (my then-husband) bitter struggle with mental health issues that included depression, narcissism, and an inability to cope with his own abusive past.
To say this created a struggle would be a gross understatement. Actually, it’s still a struggle for me some days and many days for my children and their feelings of abandonment by their father and the array of unanswered questions.
But there is learning in this struggle. We’ve learned how faithful God is. We’ve been vulnerable and pained and we’ve learned a new reality. We’ve learned who are our true friends and who are not. We’ve learned that some questions won’t get answers this side of Heaven. We’ve learned that we are worthy, despite how his actions made it seem otherwise.
And we’ve learned how God gently gathers our broken pieces and knits them carefully and lovingly back together in a new mosaic, more spectacular than before.
In the midst of your struggle is hope because you are strong and if you lean on Him–heck fall on Him–and let Him carry and guide you through. Learn the precious lessons He wants to show you to refine you into gold.
What are you struggling with? What are you learning in the midst? How can we help?
Melanie Pickett is a writer and blogger and is currently completing her first nonfiction book. She has battled Crohn’s disease and complications, has a now-healthy son who was born prematurely under challenging circumstances, and survived a 15-year abusive marriage and her first husband’s mental illness and eventual suicide. A wife and mother of two, she loves Red Wings hockey, reading, playing piano, and traveling adventures.