Sometimes it seems as though Christians aren't "allowed" to have problems, difficulties, challenges or trials.
It seems that for many, the admission that we do means we aren't "Christian" enough. We must not be faithful enough, or we don't pray enough, or maybe we simply just aren't good enough.
Which is all silly.
Being a follower of Christ is a process. A lifetime one. We won't get there over night.
The Savior understood this and, I think, tried to point it out as He chose His disciples.
As He was walking by the Sea of Galilee in Matthew 4:19 it says "...Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men."
He did NOT say, follow me, you are fishers of men. He alluded to the fact that becoming a disciple, a follower, a believer, is something that He will help us to become.
That means that much of our lives will be in learning to serve others, as He taught His disciples. In reaching out to the needy, and brokenhearted as He taught them. In teaching (for us, through the Spirit) as He did with them. It will be in the little ways we heal others, as He showed His disciples.
And sometimes it will be in a long and painful and lonely journey, as His was. We cannot forget that He asked His disciples to watch with Him, Matt 26:4. They fell asleep. He suffered, carrying the weight of all of our transgressions, on His own. He watched as Peter, his dear friend, betrayed Him. He went to the cross surrounded by throngs of people calling for His execution. He died in the most humbling of circumstances, nearly naked, painfully nailed to a cross, in absolute innocence of any wrongdoing.
When we look at the journey of His disciples, the ones who walked, talked, ate, and journeyed with him, we can see that their journey was full of ups and downs. These are the very men He said he would make into "fishers of men".
I love Peter because he reminds me in many ways of me. The one to blurt out the questions everyone else is smart enough not to say out loud. But as the Savior teaches him, he gets it and embraces it as much as he can. Even at the end of His life, as the Savior is letting Peter know he will betray Him, Peter cannot fathom it. The depth of his sorrow in his moments of weakness I can comprehend. The absolute love Jesus has for Peter and His mercy for this friend is one I cannot fully comprehend, but believe in and trust in.
While on the Sea of Galilee a storm arose and His disciples were scared. Isn't that sometimes how we feel in the storms of our lives, scared? I have. And He then asks in Matthew 8:26 "Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?' Yes, his disciples were scared. Yes, the Lord questions them. But He never said, Ok, enough! Get out of the boat. You just don't get it. I'm done with you.
Because He knew what He was making! He was making disciples. Believers. Healers. Teachers.
And they had to learn. Step by step. Sometimes painful steps.
They also had the good times, the times they healed. When they taught. They had years at His feet to learn. The chance to witness miracle after miracle in the lives of those who came to Jesus in faith, and those who came asking for the faith as well. There was the man in Mark 9:24 who brought his child to be healed, but found he lacked the faith and asked for it.
His disciples had to learn why they could not cast out devils. In Mark 9:29 He teaches them that "This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting."
If the Savior had to teach all these things to the very men who were His closest friends, the ones who saw Him heal, cast out devils, feed the hungry, guide the sinner, why do we expect that we will experience less? Why do we think our lives will look perfect and be easy?
If we truly want to be His disciples, we too will have to learn how in the struggles as well as in the good times.
I have a friend who has had seemingly nothing but struggles her entire life. And yet, she has been one of my greatest teachers as I have watched her time and again be Christlike.
The struggles and trials are real. Sometimes they hurt. Sometimes they seem to last forever. Sometimes it is lonely. These things don't mean we aren't faithful enough, believing enough or good enough. In fact, it may mean that He has chosen us to do the good work. He knows what He can make of us.
And as we hold on to our faith, even when we are also asking for the faith we need, He will make all of those struggles worth it.
Then we will be the disciples He knows we can be.