From Struggle to Hope





Alex Tang



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From Struggle to Hope

Dr Alex Tang


Let nothing disturb you.

Let nothing make you afraid.

All things are passing.

God alone never changes.

Patience gains all things.

If you have God you will want for nothing.

God alone suffices.

                               Teresa of Avila


Life is change. Sometimes we are given the luxury of making changes ourselves but often changes are forced upon us: loss of jobs, loss of loved one, cancer, heart attacks, riots, ministry failure or a stockmarket crash. Then we are forced to struggle with the changes in our lives.

Joan D. Chittister (executive director of Benevision: a Resource and Research Center for Contemporary Spirituality, Erie, Pennsylvania, USA) in her recent book, Scarred by Struggle, Transformed by Hope (Grand Rapids, Mich: Eerdmans, 2003) shared on the spirituality of struggle. Joan skillfully interweave the analogy of the struggle of Jacob with a man in Peniel (Genesis 32:22-32) with her own struggles with being offered and then taken away, her life long ambition of studying creative writing at Iowa State University.

Facing forced changes, some people will be pro-active and try to fight the change. Others will be apathetic and try to endure the change. Joan suggests that we see forced change as an opportunity for spiritual growth. There are eight gifts that struggle with forced change can offer our souls. The struggle of change will offer us conversion to a new phase of our lives. The struggle of isolation caused by forced change will offer us the gift of interdependence. The struggle of darkness will lead us to faith. The struggle with fear will infuse us with courage. The struggle with powerlessness with the gift of surrender. The struggles with vulnerability cause us to recognise our limitations. The struggle with exhaustion gives us endurance and the struggle with scarring offers us the gift of transformation. As we wrestle with changes in our lives, like Jacob we are wrestling with God. Anthony de Mello wrote, Change that is real is change that is not willed. Forced change is always painful and causes scars. But there is always hope.

Joan wrote, But if the struggle is the process of evolution from spiritual emptiness to spiritual wisdom, hope is a process as well. Hope, the response of the spiritual person to struggle, takes us from the risk of inner stagnation, of emotional despair, to a total transformation of life. Every stage of the process of struggle is a call to move from spiritual stupor to spiritual vitality. It is an invitation to live at an antinodal depth of soul, a higher level of meaning than the ordinary, the commonplace generally inspires. The spirituality of struggle gives birth to the spirituality of hope.


May all our struggles lead to hope.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Soli Deo Gloria


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