Have you noticed how many people are not willing to walk through the tough stuff today? Life is full of tough stuff – situations, relationships, work conditions, conflicts of all sorts. Nobody likes the tough stuff. It’s messy, it’s painful, and something we all would prefer to avoid. But tough stuff is part of life.
Relational tough stuff is one of the hardest to face. When it gets tough in a relationship, people like to bolt. That fact is evidenced in divorce, church splits, and ruined friendships. Tough stuff in relationships involves wounding, rejection, and judgement (to name a few) and usually culminates in some type of move toward self-preservation. The marriage is in trouble, so get out. A friend wounded us, so end the relationship. The church is in conflict, so start a new one. Employment is problematic, so leave.
It is interesting that Jesus never avoided the tough stuff. He faced things head on and walked through them. Jesus could do that because He walked in the power of the Spirit. His flesh did not dictate His actions. And in doing so He taught us an important lesson. Tough stuff is never too tough for the Spirit.
Through the years (we’re old enough now to say that) we have seen so very many people walk away from the tough stuff. In doing so they thought they were taking the better road, but in fact, they just postponed the opportunity to face what challenged them.
Walking through the tough stuff teaches us things we need to know to function powerfully in the Kingdom. The lessons learned in the midst of the tough stuff help us to grow in the Spirit. When we allow our flesh to dictate our exit, we just put off learning what God was trying to teach us. There will definitely be another opportunity for us to face the same challenges. It just seems to get a bit harder each time.
Divorce doesn’t solve marital problems. It just distances you from half of them. The other half goes with you to surface in your next relationship. Walking with Jesus through tough stuff in marriage in the power of the Spirit strengthens our commitment to each other and teaches us to work together to solve problems. Is it easy? Of course not. Dealing with tough stuff never is.
When we run from conflict in our homes, our friendships, our church, our ministry, or our work we forever believe the other one was the problem. We never have to look within our own heart to see what the Holy Spirit is trying to show us. We never have to own our part in the tough stuff.
Part of the difficulty of walking through the tough stuff is that the Holy Spirit shines His light on our own motives, our own judgements, and our own selfishness, to name a few. We can’t be obedient for the other person, but He will give us ample opportunity to be obedient for ourselves. When we walk through the tough stuff with Him, He helps us remove the dross from our own hearts. That is why it is so important to follow His Spirit and not our own emotions.
So what if the other party won’t walk through the tough stuff with you? What if your spouse wants a divorce or if a good friend wants nothing more to do with you? What then? Perhaps the first question is, “Are you breathing a sigh of relief?” If so, they just gave you an excuse to avoid the tough stuff. You can blame it on them and not have to deal with it.
If, however, you sense a deep sorrow over what is happening, perhaps the Lord is calling you to stand in faith for a day when you can face the tough stuff together. See, the next mistake after avoiding the tough stuff is accepting that there is nothing that can be done. That may temporarily help you to feel better, but unresolved tough stuff never leaves our heart.
Talk with the Lord today. Get really honest with Him. Was there a situation in your life where tough stuff was not faced? Was there a time when getting away from it seemed the top priority and that was enough for you? If so, would you be willing to walk through that tough stuff? Would you be willing to stand in faith to see it resolved? Would you be willing to intercede for the other party and allow the Lord to work on both of your hearts?
To walk in the power of the Spirit, we must allow the Holy Spirit to help us resolve the tough stuff and not allow the enemy to declare when it is over. We have to be willing to be the one who says Yes to the Holy Spirit and allows Him entrance into our tough stuff. And we have to have the courage to stand strong, trust Him, and walk through the tough stuff to see the victory of the Lord.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12