First, a word of explanation. Last week I was listening to a podcast about training and a professional athlete was talking about her woes of having moved to France to train and race in Europe this spring. Not only were her races canceled but her training was limited because of the quarantine in France where people are only allowed to venture one kilometer from their house. She unloaded on her coach telling him all that was wrong, and her coach simply told her to “Embrace the Suck.” In other words, embrace the difficulty of the moment, suck it up and press through it. The expression, “Embrace the Suck,” actually has its roots in the U.S. military to those who find an aspect of training difficult, as a way of saying buck up and press through it.
When I asked a friend about using this phrase as a title for today’s blog, he said the first thing that comes to mind is being in the bottom of the barrel when all water has been drained and all that left is the sucking sound. In other words, you can’t get any lower. OK, now you have the picture. When things are tough, which many are finding at this point in the USA with all that is associated with COVID19 and we are being told it’s going to get much worse before it gets better, this article is meant to encourage you from a spiritual standpoint to “embrace the suck, or the struggle, or the difficulty.” “But how?” you ask. Let’s consider what the Bible has to say:
First realize that which “sucks” or is difficult seemingly beyond measure is sovereignly designed for your good. So much so, that we are told that this particular trial is necessary, or it would not be part of your life. In addition, we are told that we are to count it all joy because God is working in us to completion, so we lack nothing.
Romans 8:28–29 (ESV) — 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
1 Peter 1:6–7 (ESV) — 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
James 1:2–4 (ESV) — 2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Philippians 1:6 (ESV) — 6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Secondly, we have examples of real people in the word of God who faced real difficult situations and yet “embraced the suck,” if you please. The Lord Jesus Christ is the first example of how He admitted to His disciples that the anticipation of what He was about to face as they headed for the last time to Jerusalem had his soul troubled. However, we see how He embraced the situation by rehearsing His purpose and submitting to the highest desire which was to glorify the Father. Likewise, the apostle Paul faced a difficulty that “sucked,” for which he prayed three times for it to be removed. In reminding Paul that His grace was sufficient, and His strength was made perfect in Paul’s weakness, Jesus is essentially telling Paul to “embrace the suck.”
John 12:27–28 (ESV) — 27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”
2 Corinthians 12:7–10 (ESV) — 7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
That’s worth reviewing because God’s word will see you through the most difficult moments, or if you please, “moments that suck.” Go back to God’s word and be encouraged by the fact that your King, the Lord Jesus Christ has everything under control and the only things that you face in life are those things which have been sifted by His hand, and which have a purpose in developing your character. Jesus your supreme example faced difficulties much greater than you ever will and in admitting it, He gave us the example of what where our focus should be – glorifying God and fulfilling His purpose. In addition, we have the example of the apostle Paul to remind us that the Lord Jesus Christ does not abandon us when life sucks, rather He is there to remind us that His grace is all we need and His strength comes through when we have none, and quit trying to make it on our own.
You are saying, OK Bob, give me something more, like something I can do.
- Focus on yourself – where you are in your reliance upon God and not upon what is going on in the world or how others are mishandling the situation.
Philippians 3:13–14 (ESV) — 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
- Chip away at the problem – you’ve heard to think of just one day at a time, well make it just one moment at a time. When you think about the negative possibilities, you’ll be hindered from making any progress.
Matthew 6:33–34 (ESV) — 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
- Work on your routines – when things suck, we tend to drop our routines and go into depression like behaviors of doing nothing. Force yourself into your daily habits of times in prayer, Bible reading, fellowship albeit by means other than in person.
1 Corinthians 9:26–27 (ESV) — 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
- Resist the list. It’s easy to constantly list all that is wrong and all the things you are missing. Resist it by substituting what’s good or reasons for gratitude for what’s wrong or could be wrong.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 (ESV) — 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
- Just stop! Look! Pray! Rejoice! – OK, everyday we are experiencing a “new normal” which will be the “old normal” tomorrow. When you get into bemoaning the situation which is like going around saying, “life sucks,” just stop, look up (look to God), pray, and rejoice in the Lord.
Philippians 4:4–7 (ESV) — 4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
We may be in a time when there seems plenty about which we can say, “that sucks,” but to just say that does nothing but hurt yourself and those around you. However, when you “embrace the suck” following the advice from God’s word, you will find the blessing of growing through this experience which will bless you and those around you. “Embrace the Suck.”