Strength from Struggle

Introduction:  This week’s lesson focuses on our struggles in life and how some of them are necessary to make us stronger so that we can do what God wants us to do and so that we can live in the destiny He has planned for each of our lives.

Handout:  Strength from Struggle

1.  There are times when we are going through a struggle and it seems as if it has lasted for so long.  Sometimes it lasts days, sometimes weeks or months, and sometimes even years.  We get weary and we don’t understand the significance of it. We may even start to feel as if we are doing something wrong and are being punished, but the fact is, we all go must go through some struggles in life in order for us to gain strength to do what we must do.  I will share a story with you that I once read.  It has a great lesson and is so true. 

Once there was a man who found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared, he sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole.

Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as
far as it could and it could go no farther. Then the man decided to help the
butterfly, so he took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of
the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily.

But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. The man continued to
watch the butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would
enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time.

Neither happened!  In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings.

It never was able to fly.

What the man in his kindness and haste did not understand was that the
restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through
the tiny opening were God's way of forcing fluid from the body of the
butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved
its freedom from the cocoon.

Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If God allowed us
to go through our life without any obstacles, it would cripple us. We would
not be as strong as what we could have been.  Like the butterfly we would never strengthen our wings, and we could never fly.

We as children of the Most High will endure struggles and trials in life.  The devil does not want us to succeed in obeying God.  Therefore he places obstacles in our way. 

1 Peter 4:12 “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you:

1 Peter 4:13 “ But rejoice, in as much as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.”

1 Peter 4:14 “If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.”

1 Peter 4:15 “ But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters.”

1 Peter 4:16 “Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.”

1 Peter 4:19 “Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.”

God will never lead you somewhere that He will not give you the grace and strength to get through it.  In other words if he brings you to it, he will bring you through it. 

1 Peter 1:6  “Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:”

1 Peter 1:7 “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.”

2 Samuel 22:33 “God is my strength and power: and he maketh my way perfect.”

Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy GOD, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”

Romans 8:37 “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”


Reading in God’s word, we see the struggles that David had.  King Saul was very jealous of David and several times tried to kill him when David was being kind to him.  David would have to run to get away.  David would play the harp for Saul when evil spirits were upon him, and it would make the evil spirits leave Saul and he would be refreshed.

1 Samuel 16:16 “Let our lord now command servants, which are before thee, to seek out a man, who is a cunning player on an harp: and it shall come o pass, when the evil spirit from God is upon thee, that he shall play with his hand, and thou shalt be well.”

1 Samuel 16:23 “And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him.

David would play to Saul to help him.  However, Saul became jealous of David after David came back one day from battle with great victory.  From then on Saul tried several times to kill David.  I’m sure David did not understand this and it was hard for him to have to run for his life.  David and Saul’s son Jonathan were best friends. 

1 Samuel 18:10 “And it came to pass on the morrow, that the evil spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied in the midst of the house: and David played with his hand, as at other times: and there was a javelin in Saul’s hand.”

1 Samuel 18:11 “And Saul cast the javelin; for he said, I will smite David even to the wall with it.  And David avoided out of his presence twice.”

1 Samuel 19:9 “And the evil spirit from the LORD was upon Saul, as he sat in his house with his javelin in his hand: and David played with his hand.”

1 Samuel 19:10 “And Saul sought to smite David even to the wall with the javelin; but he slipped away out of Saul’s presence, and he smote the javelin into the wall: and David fled, and escaped that night.”

David could have chosen to get angry and tired of having to run away from Saul, he could have chose to leave and go to another place instead of having to hide in caves and other places so that he would not be killed.  He had done nothing wrong.  However, David put his faith in the LORD and he knew that God would deliver him.  In the process, David’s faith became stronger and he learned patience and when it was time, David, like the butterfly made his way out of his cocoon and he flew above it all.  God placed David in the ultimate position and made him King of all of Israel. 
Not only did God honor David in his day but we find that David’s writings are in God’s word.  David is referred to in God’s word 1,139 times in 968 verses. 
Also, God blessed him with a son who also became a great king.  King Solomon the wisest man on the earth. 
All through the Bible you read how Jesus came from the lineage of David.  Born in the city of David, he was referred to as the son of David.  We also know that David not only ruled in his day but he will also rule for eternity over Israel. 
God will honor our faithfulness to him and if we trust Him, He can take our smallest effort and create something bigger and more spectacular than we could even imagine.  We must do our very best for him because he gave the very best to us when he gave us Jesus.  It is wise to obey the Father, it is wise to trust and be faithful to Him.  Even in struggle.  We do not have to worry about saving ourselves or raising ourselves when we are down low.  Our Father in due time will lift us up. 

James 4:10 “Humble yourselves in the sight of the LORD, and he shall lift you up.”

There are many examples in the Bible of men and women who lived through great struggle and trials and God honored their faithfulness and gave them strength from their struggle.  Remember Joseph when he was a young boy his brothers were jealous of his dreams and sold him as a slave and taken to a different place far from his home and his father.  He lived as a slave and still he remained in his integrity and served the LORD.  Even when he was falsely accused by his master’s wife and thrown into prison, he remained faithful to God.  For years Joseph was a slave, now he found himself in prison even though he had done nothing wrong.  I’m sure many times he wanted to give up and die.  How hard it must have been for him there, but hallelujah he knew in whom he believed and he knew that God would deliver him in due season.  Joseph continued in prison to do good and he interpreted dreams that fellow prisoners had and it came to pass. 

2 Thessalonians 3:13 “But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.”

Don’t you know those years in prison, Joseph endured some very hard times and bad conditions.  I’m sure satan whispered in his ear, where is your God when you need him, he has allowed you to be cast into this prison for years and a slave and you have done nothing wrong.  Why don’t you just give up?  However Joseph purposed in his heart to be faithful in his struggles.  Even though he did not know and could not see, Hallelujah God was being faithful to him as well and working behind the scenes.  In this pain and struggle Joseph was gaining strength, patience, courage, and wisdom.  Everything he would need for what God has in store for his future.  Joseph was learning the language and learning the culture and gaining the tools he would need to be a great ruler.  We learn later that because of the wisdom God gave Joseph concerning dream interpretation, he was released from prison by the King of Egypt and he was placed second in command over all of Egypt when he was.  He was reunited with his brothers and his father. 

Genesis 41:39-46 “And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art:

Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou.

And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt.

And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph’s hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck;

And he mad him to ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried before him, Bow the knee: and he made him ruler over all the land of Egypt.

And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I am pharaoh, and without thee shall no man lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt. 

And Pharaoh called Joseph’s name Zaphnathpaaneah; and gave him to wife Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On.  And Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt. And Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh, the king of Egypt.  And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went throughout all the land of Egypt.”

From a young boy to the time he was thirty years old, Joseph lived as a slave and as a prisoner.  He remained faithful to God and God honored those years and he was ruler for the rest of his days.  God gave him Strength from Struggle, and he will do the same for you child. Don’t give up little butterfly, you are just emerging from your cocoon!  Praise the LORD for he is worthy! 

Galatians 6:9 “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”

2 Corinthians 12:10 “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Like the ones of old, like the butterfly you may be in a trial that has lasted for so long and you are weary.  Don’t give up child of God.  He is your strength.  Run to the Father, tell him everything that is in your heart.  Do not be afraid.  He knows anyway.  However, say it to him, call to him and be amazed at the grace, strength, and mercy that he will give.  Pray for patience, and wisdom.  He will provide.
Don’t be weary in well doing, hang in there, we have hope in the LORD, he will take our years of pain and struggle and give us strength and honor.  We don’t do it            for our own glory however, but we do it for him in love and he is a rewarder of those that diligently seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)

Soldier, never give up, fight the good fight.  Do your part as best as you can and let the Lord do the rest, for the battle is not ours but his.  Struggle your way through that cocoon little butterfly and soon if you do not give up…you will soar. 
Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

2 Corinthians 4:15 “For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.”

Do not forget to serve others in the love and attitude of Christ this week.

Read and discuss the Psalms when David wrote songs and prayers to God when he was in struggle and running for his life.  (Psalm 57)

Dear Righteous Heavenly Father…
We come to you again this week.  We are in awe of who you are and what you can do.  We know with no doubts that you can do all things and there is nothing or no one that is more mighty or powerful than you.  There is and never will be another like you.  Our hearts glory at who you are and that you are mindful of us. 
We thank you for yet another week of safety and that we are back again in another meeting in order to worship and praise you.  You are worthy and deserve all glory and honor.  We ask you today to protect us, to comfort us and to help us always walk in your ways.  We ask for wisdom today and for strength to do what you would have us to do.  Father the evil one waits to harm us, to hinder us.  We ask you to stop him, we ask you to give us victory over him so that we can go forward in the plans you have for us.  We ask you to hide us in you; we ask for rest and peace in the midst of hard times and struggle.  We ask you to make him tremble when we mention your name and to flee.  Only you can comfort and give the strength that we need.  Father help us not to fear.  We hope and glory in you.  Help us to always trust and run to you.  Help us to do as you would have us do not for our glory but for your honor and glory because it is due to you.  We thank you and will ever love and praise you with all we have within us.  Help us not grow weary in well doing.  Teach us the things we must know and give us the tools we need to continue on.  Thank you for your love, mercy, protection, and for holding us in your mighty hand.  We love and praise you always…In the precious and mighty name of your son JESUS we ask these things and pray Amen.

October 19, 2008