Hope for the Struggles We All Face

David PowlisonBy David Powlison7 Minutes

Excerpt taken from Take Heart: Daily Devotions to Deepen Your Faith by David Powlison


No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it (1 Corinthians 10:13).

The Bible makes this point: There is no struggle you face that is not common to all people. That levels the playing field. We each face the same temptations—everyday life brings frustration and disappointment, and we react with irritation and complaining. We are more alike than different. Whether my problems appear large or small, I have the same kind of struggle as everyone else. Our differences are matters of degree. Obviously, not all of us are consumed by explosive or implosive hostility. But all of us are tempted to grumble. That is the tiny cone and seedling from which giant redwoods grow. Major sins are only minor sins grown up. Complaining has the same DNA as violent rage.

So it makes sense that the life-altering solution to minor complaining has the same DNA as the solution to major bitterness or explosive temper. The discussion in 1 Corinthians 10 helps us see how we are all in the same boat. But the apostle Paul, speaking for Jesus (“apostle” simply means someone’s messenger), doesn’t leave us there. He leads us by the hand onto solid ground. He goes on to say, “God is faithful and he will not let you to be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” When you and I encounter frustrating circumstances, we are tempted to spiral into a negative attitude. But here is a way out and a way forward.

Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:4-6).

Forgiven people don’t simply rest in peace because their restless sins, corrosive guilt, and dark shame are now covered. You now have Christ’s goodness and mercy to embody and to speak to others. You are God’s beloved child—and that does not make you complacent and self-satisfied. You are beloved . . . so that you are able to love, to give your life away for others.

So you don’t actually become a “self-confident individual.” Your trust and confidence is decidedly not in yourself, but in the one who has loved you by saving you from misguided attempts at self-confidence. Your life will continue to be stressful. You are still mortal. You still live in a world of disappointments and dangers. You still fail. You still need the fragrant offering of the King and Savior who died at thirty-three. You serve this King and Savior, and his service is not always convenient. He puts you out of your comfort zone. He strips away the illusions that you can control people and events. He doesn’t let you create a safe zone where you don’t need to care about broken lives. As a person whose confidence rests outside of yourself and in God, your life purpose is to love people who need the Savior who loves you. You are only giving away a bit of what is being lavished on you.

Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us (Romans 5:2-5).

Some psalms suffer honestly: “O God, I am in anguish. Deliver me from my sufferings and my sins.” Other psalms delight honestly: “O my God, you are good. I thank you, worship you, and adore you.” Somehow, in the way God runs his universe, our willingness to enter into the experience of pain, disappointment, loneliness, hurt, and stress—being willing to face it and not bolt for some lesser pleasure—winds up being the door to the greatest pleasure of all. And with the best come the other true pleasures, felt deeply.

In 1 Peter 1, suffering is the context in which you experience “joy inexpressible and full of glory” (v. 8 NASB). In James 1, trial is the context of purpose, endurance, meaning, and joy. In Romans 5, we are told that we “rejoice in our suffering” (v. 3). In the midst of sorrows, anguish, misery, and pain we come to know that “the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (v. 5 NASB). Walking into suffering with eyes wide open, and not running after escapist pleasures, opens the door to knowing the love of God.

Excerpted from Take Heart: Daily Devotions to Deepen Your Faith by David Powlison ©2022 by Nancy Powlison. Used by permission of New Growth Press. May not be reproduced without prior written permission.