Life can be very challenging. We are constantly confronted with needs, attitudes, questions, problems, heartbreaks, ailments, issues, and an endless list of things that need to be done. Sometimes, we feel as though we are pushing a giant boulder in circles and making no progress. We feel like giving up the fight. However, the simple fact that we are pushing is progress! When the boulder of life’s burdens does not seem to budge or when you feel that any motion is either backwards or in circles, remember that the act of refusing to give up is always progress. How many times have we given up too soon or been on the verge of a breakthrough when we decided to quit? It’s impossible to know the impact of those past decisions. It is not productive to focus on lost opportunities, but it is always good to consider the opportunities of this present moment and what we can do with them. When God has placed a task in front of us or given us a vision for ministry or for utilizing the gifts that he has given in a way that maximizes our potential and brings glory to Him, we can visualize the victory that the completion of this task or the faithful performance of this task could bring, knowing that God’s vision is always greater than our own. If we were to also visualize the barriers and challenges that will have to be overcome, the largest barrier by far would be the temptation to quit when we feel that our efforts have been in vain or that the task is too big or too hopeless to continue.
Quitting is the most effective form of breakthough and victory prevention. When what we are doing or trying to do is a positive, healthy action that ultimately brings glory to God because it is wholesome and right, quitting and giving up the fight can rob us and the world of something that could be a blessing to many lives. We may need to re-group and spend some time in prayer about how to proceed further. We may need to share the vision that the Lord has given with others and ask for their help and prayer support. We may need to re-focus priorities. We may need to remind ourselves daily that quitting would prevent a breakthrough to victory which could be just around the corner. Whatever it takes to keep going is what we need to do, unless God himself re-focuses our priorities in a different direction.
I must confess that the feeling of being overwhelmed in a task or with day to day living overtakes my mind frequently. It is a battle that I must fight with more than my own resources in order to keep going. I need the joy of the Lord that is my strength, and I must rely on Christ within me, the hope of glory. If I am going to refuse to surrender to thoughts of futility, my encouragement is the joy that comes from knowing my Lord and knowing that His plans for my life are to give me a hope and a future. If I am going to be able to push on past feelings of hopelessness and fears of failure, the sure knowledge that Christ has redeemed my life and will ultimately sanctify it fills me with the hope of fulfilling my purpose through God’s mercy, which will allow me to bring glory to God though His grace. This battle of the will requires that we place our trust in the Lord. We must trust that He will bring about good from our efforts and that He is at work in ways that we do not see. Trust is the foundation for perseverance. When we can trust the Lord with the results of our efforts and continue to strive onward because we know that God will use our obedience to strengthen His Kingdom in some way (even if that change occurs only in our own hearts). our determination to persevere is refined by hardship or a seeming lack of results rather than being extinguished like a wisp of fading hope. Through this trust and faith, we seek goodness by obedience, growing in our knowledge of what God would have us to do as we continue to seek His ways. Peter spoke of this sequence of spiritual growth in II Peter 1:2 – 9.
2 Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. 4 Through these He has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. *
In the above passage, perseverance is listed as a quality that is necessary for becoming an effective and productive Christian (and, as a result, being effective and productive in our other life roles…parent, spouse, employee, friend, leader, communicator, encourager, helper…). God considers perseverance to be an extension of our desire to know Him and to grow in the faith and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because the goal of Christlikeness is of primary and eternal importance, we refuse to give up. Because our trust is in Almighty God rather than in our own human efforts, we hold on and persevere.
Sometimes, when we feel like giving up, we just need someone to talk to. Of course, prayer is always important. God can speak to our hearts when we pour out our struggles honestly in prayer. He can also speak to our hearts through the encouragement of others. If you have a trusted friend or family member to whom you feel you can honestly share your feelings of being overwhelmed, or fear of failure, or loss of hope, it can be a good thing to just get these feelings out in the open and see them for what they are. Hopefully, your loved one will point out to you the progress that has already been made and remind you of the necessity of perseverance and the importance of your task. It could be that some human encouragement to go on will result in a fresh determination, to which the Lord will add His strength.
If can be so difficult to keep going when we don’t know what the future holds and the circumstances don’t look good. We don’t know the future, but we do know the Creator of all life and of time and space and everything that is. Here’s what the Bible says about his plans for us in Jeremiah 29:11.
God has great plans for your life and for my life. He is at work even when we can’t see His hand. Part of what he wants us to learn as we travel through life is to trust Him when we feel that all is lost. We walk by faith, not by sight. It’s almost like stumbling across a dark room in search of a light switch that we know is just beyond our reach. We have to take a step of faith in order to get there. When we reach the wall, it could seem to be an obstacle; but if we keep reaching, we’ll find the switch. Suddenly, it will become clear that our effort was not in vain!
When it comes to the tasks that God has placed into your life, remember that He is the God of possibility even in the darkest of circumstances. We don’t have to stumble blindly through life. We have His life and light and power within us as we walk through the plains of sameness and climb the mountains of challenge and trial. He is also beside us through the dark valleys. Just as the seeker found in the illustration of the dark room, the light and power was available all along. He just had to take a step of faith (which means a step toward persevering) in order to find it.
Galatians 6:9 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” *
* New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society
This post was written by C. Boyd
Here are some additional posts that may be helpful to you:
Psalm 23 (scroll on to the Japanese version that begins, “The Lord is my Pace-setter…”)