Life is tough.
I know prosperity gospel preachers will tell you if you do "this" or act "that" way, God will bless you and it will all be great.
But that is just.not.true.
Look at Paul. Sold out, turned around and laid out for Christ. Yet, he was nearly stoned to death, beaten, persecuted, chased away, imprisoned and ultimately (it is presumed) executed. He consistently referenced a "thorn", he had a hard time seeing, he spoke hard truths and lived with great abandon. Many Christians quote Paul's words in Philippians 4:13 as a battle cry before they charge in to their own high hopes and desires from this life...
I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.
I despise that.
I have come to loathe the random quoting of this passage as Christians claim a share in glory and a right to do their will because "Christ will give them strength". The greater truth is one verse before...
I know how to live humbly, and I know how to abound. I am accustomed to any and every situation—to being filled and being hungry, to having plenty and having need.
- Philippians 4:12
Paul isn't saying, in verse 13, that he can do ALL things as he determines. No, he is reflecting that through all of his ups and downs, it was Christ who strengthens and sustains.
Oh, dear, weary Christian, what a beaten path we walk. One where persecution still runs rampant. One where family turns on family. One where darkness seems to close all around and the air grows thin.
But reach out, weary Christian, reach out and feel.... you are not alone. Many walk this path with you... or have gone before you on this beaten ground. Christ is next to you... often carrying you... and your brothers and sisters in the faith are all about you. When the darkness clears, you will see. Weary Christian, you are not alone. Jesus knew...
If the world hates you, understand that it hated Me first. If you were of the world, it would love you as its own. Instead, the world hates you, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.
These heavy burdens and dark places are a part of our walk in Jesus' footsteps. He beat down that path before we ever did. He knows our hearts and our worries and our troubles. Many times the hard truth is, He doesn't plan to remove them from us... instead, he uses them, uses the broken, fallen, state of this messy world to GROW us.
I heard it said recently that you can't be brave without being afraid. A hard, simple truth. I have also observed over the years how you can't know how truly bright Light is, until you have experienced absolute dark.
Oh, dear, weary Christian. My heart aches for your dark places right now. I know, because of all the dark places I have walked, yes, I know. But I would walk through those dark places again and again and again for all the powerful and wonderful things God has shown me and grown me in through them. I believe with all my heart God will do this for you too. Draw strength and comfort from Christ...
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
- John 16:33
Be reminded and empowered by God's Word through Paul...
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 5:3-5
...and don't give up.
Keep your eyes on the Cross and keep marching ahead. No matter how dark the night gets, light will come and you, dear, weary Christian, you will claim VICTORY over the enemy and joy as the result of obedience.
I pray for you today, weary Christian, if this is you, be strong, have courage, believe Christ and not the mesh-up of the world (and even a few "well meaning" Christians) around. And if this is not you right now, dear Christian, I trust it has been at some point. I pray you will reach out to someone in your life right now who this is for, someone who needs to know this path has been beaten and the light will be magnificently bright when the darkness fades.