Greetings 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 shared many revelations of spiritual truth to me, and I want to share them with you. This morning, we consider the existential question of why we struggle.
And now, sit back and listen to today's message.
Why We 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
Behold the beautiful butterfly. How did he become so beautiful?
Brothers and sisters, a butterfly must struggle before it can emerge from its cocoon as a thing of beauty. But why?
Our struggles, our anxieties and sorrows, our trials and tribulations are the result of our effort to achieve divine perfection. Individually and as a collective, we are imperfect. This means that in order to achieve personal and environmental perfection, we must make enormous efforts to do so. Our struggles foster many emotional reactions, but we can remember that ““the greatest affliction of the cosmos is never to have been afflicted. Mortals only learn wisdom by experiencing tribulation." To strive for perfection——completion--is to live out the divine plan for our lives. The Father has mandated that we ““be perfect”” even as he is perfect.
Some of our brethren who live from a higher plane spiritually no longer need the stimulus of struggle. These beings understand the divine purpose and thus embrace all challenges voluntarily. We exist on a plane where all of us need the stimulation of physical and intellectual obstacles. We are taught that ““the world is not to be regarded as an enemy; that the circumstances of life constitute a divine dispensation working along with the children of God." This is so because "universe difficulties must be met and planetary obstacles must be encountered as a part of the experience training provided for the growth and development, the progressive perfection, of the evolving souls of mortal creatures.””
““The spiritualization of the human soul requires intimate experience with the educational solving of a wide range of real universe problems. The animal nature and the lower forms of will creatures do not progress favorably in environmental ease. Problematic situations, coupled with exertion stimuli, conspire to produce those activities of mind, soul, and spirit which contribute mightily to the achievement of worthy goals of mortal progression and to the attainment of higher levels of spirit destiny."
So we see that it is the animal nature that we are beginning with that requires the stimulus of struggle. ". . .Loyalties are not exercised in behalf of the great, the good, the true, and the noble without a struggle. Effort is attendant upon clarification of spiritual vision and enhancement of cosmic insight. And the human intellect protests against being weaned from subsisting upon the nonspiritual energies of temporal existence. The slothful animal mind rebels at the effort required to wrestle with cosmic problem solving.”” We rebel by indulging in ““……procrastination, equivocation, insincerity, problem avoidance, unfairness, and ease seeking.”” When in the unremitting grip of these struggles, often we may be led to uncomfortable emotions.
We might never be able to guess that the caterpillar turned butterfly had within the potential to achieve such beauty. It is true that we may misunderstand our potential to bear the beautiful harvest of the fruits of the Spirit. But our Creator Father knows of these potentials because he placed them there. Like the caterpillar who struggled to emerge from its cocoon, Jesus, our Creator Father, struggled to actualize the spiritual potentials wrapped up in his soul while in the flesh.
We should not be overwhelmed by what seems like an impossible task, this journey toward perfection. Consider these truths:
Is courage--strength of character--desirable? Then must man be reared in an environment which necessitates grappling with hardships and reacting to disappointments.
Is altruism--service of one's fellows--desirable? Then must life experience provide for encountering situations of social inequality.
Is hope--the grandeur of trust--desirable? Then human existence must constantly be confronted with insecurities and recurrent uncertainties.
Is faith--the supreme assertion of human thought--desirable? Then must the mind of man find itself in that troublesome predicament where it ever knows less than it can believe.
Is the love of truth and the willingness to go wherever it leads, desirable? Then must man grow up in a world where error is present and falsehood always possible.
Is idealism--the approaching concept of the divine--desirable? Then must man struggle in an environment of relative goodness and beauty, surroundings stimulative of the irrepressible reach for better things.
Is loyalty--devotion to highest duty--desirable? Then must man carry on amid the possibilities of betrayal and desertion. The valor of devotion to duty consists in the implied danger of default.
Is unselfishness--the spirit of self-forgetfulness--desirable? Then must mortal man live face to face with the incessant clamoring of an inescapable self for recognition and honor. Man could not dynamically choose the divine life if there were no self-life to forsake. Man could never lay saving hold on righteousness if there were no potential evil to exalt and differentiate the good by contrast.
Is pleasure--the satisfaction of happiness--desirable? Then must man live in a world where the alternative of pain and the likelihood of suffering are ever-present experiential possibilities.
We look at these beautiful and desirable qualities, and crave for them to become part of our character, but being experiential creatures there is only way by which we can acquire these qualities and that is by and through struggle.
Our Creator Father, Jesus, clothed himself as a human and lived the mortal life from beginning to end. By choosing the Father’’s will, he showed us how simultaneously to live the material life, with its many struggles, and to live the heavenly life, with its many joys and spiritual liberation. He told us that while we lived in this world, we should learn of the divine will for cheer, optimism, and humor, as we would surely face many trials and tribulations. More than this, he taught us that God is our Father and that we are his sons and daughters. He revealed the Father’’s love to us and demonstrated the Father’’s love us with an infinite and eternal affection. He declared that with spirit-born faith, we could recognize, accept, and live out this ennobling truth daily.
Living with such inspiration, being spiritually conscious of the heavenly Father, we make our way through the valley of human life. The experience of this great truth transcends our difficulties though they are not taken away. When once we realize that a divine spirit works in us, with us, and for us, are we not mightily inspired to begin to look at our difficulties from a more positive perspective?
Like the beautiful butterfly, finally we will emerge from the dreaded anticipation of another struggle to that high and glorious state where we have learned ““to feast upon uncertainty, to fatten upon disappointment, to enthuse over apparent defeat, to invigorate in the presence of difficulties, to exhibit indomitable courage in the face of immensity, and to exercise unconquerable faith when confronted with the challenge of the inexplicable.”” Our battle cry will be: "In liaison with God, nothing--absolutely nothing--is impossible.
This concludes today's message on understanding the meaning of why we 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