Geetings and good morning brothers and sisters This is Dr. James Perry continuing with our series
where we seek to explore the deeper meanings of our relationship with Jesus Christ. Over the years,
the heavenly Father has revealed many revelations of spiritual truth to me, and I want to share them
with you. This morning we seek to understand more on the meaning and value of struggle.
And now, sit back and listen to today's message.
More on the Meaning and Value of Struggle
Jesus said, "In the world ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."
John, Chapter 16, Verse 33.
Brothers and sisters, in today's broadcast, we explore the nature of struggle--its value and meaning.
In previous papers, we have dealt with the different aspects of struggle and have gleaned some
helpful insights, but today we shall share some additional insights that have recently become
available as the result of a new experience. These insights have been stimulated by the sharing of an
experience with our youngest daughter who is just entering medical school. As she began classes and
began to experience life as a medical student, my mind drifted back across the many years since I
had undergone the same experience.
Medical school is an awesome experience. Nothing in the previous life of the student can compare,
intellectually or experientially. The medical student has a desire and a goal to become a physician.
What is missing from the medical student's understanding is the tremendous transformation that she
has to undergo in order to make that desire translate into an accomplished fact. This transformation
involves the very nature of thought, for her thinking must shift from herself to other selves. Her
thought processes must undergo a transformation; she must become a critical thinker, one who can
function under tremendous pressures and life-threatening situations. And she must undergo this kind
of training so frequently that it becomes second nature to her. And in the process of acquiring these
transformations of thinking and being, she must acquire a tremendous amount of information in a
relative short period of time.
Most medical students are used to going to classes in undergraduate education for an hour about
three times a week for a course, having adequate time to prepare for the next class. And even though
some undergrad courses are strenuous, such as organic chemistry and physics, and require more from
the student who pursues these courses than the average student who may be pursuing other courses,
nothing in undergraduate education comes close to the medical school experience. During
undergraduate training relationships may remain intact and are scarcely modified. In medical schools
the coercive demands rearrange and modify all relationships, while new relationships are made and
some are dropped altogether. Many a marriage during this process fails as the demands of medical
school become all-consuming.
Each year, the student is required to climb to a new level of functioning, no mean feat. When she
begins medical school, it is as if she is going to work. She goes to class eight hours a day, five days
a week. And all day long and every day, she is presented with lecture after lecture with new
information. At the end of the first day, her mind is stunned at the amount of information that has
been imparted, and that she is expected to somehow retain. And this experience continues on and
on. Her first reaction to this massive amount of instruction is one of shock and then complaints,
which quickly move into a sense of being overwhelmed intellectually. And upon the heels of these
massive shoes of instruction follows the fatigue and exhaustion of the strenuous effort as off time
is spent trying to learn what was presented as well as to prepare for the next day's class.
It is at this point that something very similar to despair begins to set in, and many students wonder
seriously if they have made a grave mistake by enrolling in medical school. But most of them will
continue to struggle with the course requirements and begin the transformation process of becoming
a physician. They accept the challenge and soon begin to emerge from the feelings of being
overwhelmed. The complaints cease and despair vanishes, as they steel themselves to meet the
challenge. They still may not have too much faith in the process, but they accept it. At this point the
medical student is well on his way in spirit to becoming a physician. All that is needed is for her to
stay the course and respond to the daily challenges with which she is confronted.
Acceptance unlocks the gears of her potential, and her mind expands to embrace the new intellectual
challenge. It becomes sharper, more analytical, more adept at remembering information and
integrating it, and her confidence soars. At the end of the process, such new physicians are grateful
and wish only that they could have learned more, for they have begun to realize that what they
learned is only the tip of the iceberg when compared to what remains unknown of the discipline of
medicine. The study of medicine is a lifelong pursuit, and the physician becomes a perpetual student,
always learning more and more about her profession. Those who do not soon fade from the scene
and disappear into the backwash of incompetence.
At the end of this process, an individual emerges who is capable of assuming responsibility for
another's material life and for modifying the disease process of that individual through skillful
intervention. This individual has acquired an ethical framework for her profession, but her moral and
spiritual character remains unchanged unless moral and spiritual striving have also been a part of this
intellectual transformation. And this issue is recognized in the selection process as the selectors of
prospective medical students attempt to weed those out who are not suited morally and ethically for
such high responsibilities. But even so this whole process is nothing but a benchmark when
compared to the unremitting struggles of life, of which this process of becoming an physician is just
another episode in life's struggle.
Though this process of becoming a physician is just an episode in the struggles of life, it does contain
some pearls of wisdom and meanings and values that we can use to further deepen our understanding
and acceptance of, not resignation to, the struggles of life. Inertia is a state whereby a thing remains
at rest. And for our purpose we shall also designate those things that may also be in motion but at
a constant speed. There is a required force to change the status of an object at rest or one at a
constant speed. The object resists the change in motion. And though it is apparent that the only way
a change in status can occur is by moving from the present position, our hearts often faint when
confronted with the reality of such change. We dread the process of becoming more than we
currently are. The specter of failure overshadows our efforts. We seem to lose the vision of the end
product and only focus on the current pain and suffering which is immediate, as opposed to the
distant goal we are striving to reach.
If we keep our focus on the goal and cheerfully cooperate with the instructors of the life struggle, we
can eliminate a lot of the dread and anxiety that we experience when confronted with a new
opportunity for growth, not to mention when we are overwhelmed by the challenges of growth. We
must remember that even when we apparently fail during some of the challenges, this apparent
failure is used to advance us in status, for we learn far more from failure than we do from success.
The overwhelming sensation whereby we feel initially that we lack the resources to take advantage
of the opportunity that the instructors of life are presenting in the form of adversity is very similar
to the experience of first year medical students who have not yet mobilized their potential for
meeting and overcoming the obstacles that stand in the way of new growth and development. If we
can remember what the stimulus of obstacles do for us, the good that they do for us, we can dampen
the negative emotional response to these obstacles.
Some of the most important values that we can use as we proceed down this road of lifelong struggle
are faith and hope, along with trust in the goodness of the Heavenly Father. These qualities connect
us to our potential state and as long we keep the light of them burning we need not fear the shadows
and darkness of despair that appear whenever the light of these merciful qualities are extinguished.
The Father has commanded us to be perfect as He is perfect, and we achieve this perfection by
meeting the challenges of life, becoming one with them, and mastering them by the full application
of our intellectual power, the enthusiasm of our emotional natures, the compelling power of our
moral natures, and the overwhelming power of our spiritual nature. And always is this the power of
love, patience, mercy, and forgiveness-divine goodness--while we earnestly seek the truth of love
and unifying power of the beauty of love.
This concludes today's message on understanding more of the meaning and value of struggle. We
hope you find something in this message to ponder and pray about as you go about your day.
Until next time, this is Dr. James Perry.