“This is a struggle, yes, but it’s still life and it’s still charged with light and goodness and peace and the gospel of love.”
Monday afternoon my brother I got together with my Mum, my Dad, and my brother, Geoff for a cup of tea at their home in Sarasota. Here’s the image I captured – not a bad-looking crew for a cumulative 274!
We decided on meeting for tea because, first of all, we can – and that fact alone is worth celebrating. But the other purpose was to sit down together and talk about the latest challenge that has come our way as a family. It’s important that we all have the same information, that we’re all reading from the same page, and that we begin this particular chapter in the context of mutual love, support and prayer.
I’ve written about cancer before. A few years ago Geoff had to deal with a very aggressive prostate malignancy; then – in early 2010 – my cousin Linda passed away in her mid-forties. Well, the conversation is back front and center again because Geoff’s liver cancer has progressed to a point where getting a transplant is no longer a possibility. There never are a lot of good options when it comes to liver cancer, so crossing this particular threshold is a difficult place to be.
But make no mistake, this is still very much a post about the life-charged life. Because there are always two distinct options when it comes to facing tough times.
- There’s defeat – something that can also be disguised as despair…
- Or there’s the sure victory of the life that is not restricted in scope by the principles of mortality and decay. You’ve gotta love the way Paul talks about this in 1 Corinthians 15: “For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality….”
Good stuff for sure. But what has really been on my mind is the following passage from First Timothy 6: “But you, man of God… pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”
Rebekah preached on this text a couple of Sundays back. “I took a look at the Greek,” she said, “and I think the best translation in terms of today’s language is not ‘fight the good fight,’ but ‘struggle the good struggle.'”
The life that is good is often best understood in terms of ongoing struggle. Struggling is what we do when we’re faced with the reality of challenge. Life is all about challenge, both in the best of times and the not so good. If our experience was always a walk in the park, then it probably wouldn’t be the life-charged life.
- We struggled with our children during those times when they were teens and things didn’t always go well…
- Rebekah and I struggled when our marriage was in a tough place…
- We have both struggled to make the most of our opportunities, to resist negative influences, to transcend the limitations of culture and stereotype, to live well and to live the Good News out loud…
- When Jacob struggled with God at Peniel (Genesis 32) it was symbolic of life that is thoroughly engaged, that doesn’t avoid the tough challenges,that is anxious to live to capacity.
Struggle the good struggle: That’s the way I see our family dealing with what’s next. This is a struggle, yes, but it’s still life and it’s still charged with light and goodness and peace and the Gospel of Love.
We are clothed with the imperishable. We know the end of the story. It’s going to be Okay….
If you’re reading this, your prayers would be appreciated.
Peace – DEREK
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.