Today I sat down to write.
I knew I needed to talk about perseverance.
There were lots of thoughts running around my mind… but I was unsure where to start. So I did what every good writer does when in that spot…. I went out on an errand.
When I returned home, I again got my laptop out to prepare this post.
Before typing a word, I checked my email and saw an email which needed my immediate response.
While there, I scanned the other items in my inbox and my eye was drawn to a weekend post which contained a touching video.
I am aware this video made the rounds last year, so it may not be new to you. Because I rarely watch videos, I never viewed it. I think it was reserved for me to see today. Maybe you too.
This is a beautiful story of perseverance. And self-less love.
It’s also a story of understanding that no matter what comes along in our journey, God is always at work in our lives in an incredibly positive way.
Before you click on the viewing arrow… grab a tissue. You’ll need it.
The longer I walk with God the more I see that he doesn’t always prevent bad things from happening to us. I wish he would. We pray for safety, yet somehow, God doesn’t seem to be as interested in our safety as he is in our hearts and our obedience.
We know that God is always at work for the good of everyone who loves him.
Life is hard. Things don’t make sense.
We’re overcome with incredible weariness.
Have you ever felt like quitting? Giving up?
I confess I have.
Ian and Larissa didn’t give up.
They press forward each day in spite of their circumstances.
They seem to understand what it means to persevere.
They are modern-day examples of living faith.
The Bible is rich with many who didn’t give up… Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Esther, and Rahab, just to name a few.
Since we are surrounded by so many examples of faith,
we must get rid of everything that slows us down,
especially sin that distracts us. We must run the race
that lies ahead of us and never give up.
This verse on perseverance is so interesting to me.
In this letter to the Hebrews, the writer describes our lives as a race. And he tells us that we must run in this race. He doesn’t suggest we can walk. No, he tells us to run.
The point here, to me, is that a race doesn’t go on forever… it’s a timed event.
I’m reminded that time is not endless for us in this life. We have a limited number of years, days, and minutes.
A race is a time of focus. When we’re in a race, we have our eyes on the goal and doing our best to get there well.
I don’t know about you, but when I use this race analogy to look at my own life…it sort of makes me feel a little bit uncomfortable. Noah, Abraham, Joseph, and others kept their eyes on God, despite their incredible challenges. They didn’t sit back and relax and watch the world go by. These heroes of faith lived in such a way that they were able to press on.
- What do you think it was that helped them press on they way they did?
- What is it that slows us down?
- What sinful desires do we have that distract us?
These are hard questions which require our attention.
I’ll be frank and say that this week I struggled. I wanted to quit. I wanted to give up. I wanted to say this is too hard. Sure, I had a wonderful week in many ways. I enjoyed a getaway with a dear dear friend. We had a fabulous time together. But, behind the curtain, so to speak, things were not coming together as I had hoped. At least not in my time-table. I am weary. I started to walk down the path of discouragement.
And then, a few hours later, I stopped myself from continuing down that path. I chose to not be discouraged. A big, small change.
We will all face discouragement. It’s inevitable.
If we allow discouragement to slow us down or stop us in our tracks… we’re not persevering are we?
If I were to continue to be discouraged, I would be guilty of the sin that distracts.
I would also be guilty of giving up on the race.
There’s one more thing…
Races are hard. Really hard.
Paul knew that as he wrote a letter to the Philippians. He surely experienced more trials than you and I together will probably encounter. His life was hard, but he told them he found contentment in every circumstance….
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.
I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation,
whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
James, another Christ follower, experienced the intense difficulties of life and yet he said…
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials
of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith
produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work
so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
If we run this race with all we have… we will have contentment, joy, and more. We will also experience first hand what Paul means when he says…
We know that God is always at work for the good of everyone who loves him.
He certainly experienced it first hand.
I’ve probably said it before here, but I used to be very frustrated when people I knew would sign their notes, etc., with “Romans 8:28.” I felt it was shallow and trite. But…. that was before I encountered some really big trials.
You see, it was because of those trials I experienced God doing wonderful things in my life that did not happen because “I” made them happen.
Instead… he grew my faith, he enlarged my heart, he gave me a new-found empathy and compassion, he gave me contentment, and peace, and so much more.
He didn’t waste the years I thought were wasted.
I’m a much better person in so many ways. These things are not my doing… they are God’s doing. The only part that is my doing… is the running. Persevering through the challenges… trusting him. My part is small… his part is huge. You see… HE helps me run. HE gives me the strength. HE gives me new eyes to see. HE gives me faith to believe. And most of all HE gives me his love so that I can learn to love like he does.
Every day, the race challenges me. But God in his goodness is patient and encouraging. He cheers me on the run… to keep on running and to get rid of whatever it is that weighs me down and tangles my feet. An area that needs my constant attention… but that doesn’t stop him from working all things for my good.
We boast in the hope of the glory of God.
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings,
because we know that suffering produces perseverance;
perseverance, character; and character, hope.
And hope does not put us to shame,
because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts
through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Most of us would prefer to live lives of ease. To walk and not run. If we jump into the race, we must go full-bore, putting all we have into every foot fall. It seems exhausting. Impossible. And then there is also the admonition to never give up.
If you’re in that spot where you can hardly put one foot in front of the other… I hope you’ve been encouraged today. Encouraged to know that living comes in the running. That running is our calling and that makes it more do-able than standing or walking.
This race… it’s not a solo race. It’s a race we run with others. Others whom we cheer and who cheer us. It’s a race where we lock arms and run hard together. This race is not one where we run in our own strength. Quite the opposite. All the energy we need to run full on comes from the ONE who overcame death for you and me. The ONE who already won the victory. Like the apostle Paul, say… I can do all things through Christ, because he gives me strength. Philippians 4:13.
So run your heart out like Ian and Larissa. Keep in mind, Jesus is always with you. Remember God is working all things together for your good. He will help you so you don’t fall. He will guide you to take the right path. And be encouraged knowing you run in the Lord’s power and strength. Don’t forget that great cloud of witnesses. So Run! Run the race with perseverance. Run with JOY! You can do it!!
Are you running in the race or have you given up?
What challenges or difficulty are you facing?
How is God at work in your life through your trials?
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Your calling, should you choose to accept it….
Is to run the race that lies ahead and never give up.
Will you accept your calling?
JoyDay! is the day we take time to look back over the past week and count ‘seven’… our joys and our sorrows… and give thanks.
There’s something wonderful that happens when we practice this counting. We start to see things in our day differently, we live with more joy and expectation. And because we count… we find JOY!
Please join me in counting ‘seven.’
Lord, thank you for…
- daffodils and forsythia and magnolia and GREEN beginning to emerge on the bushes and trees
- a sweet, sweet time and safe travels with a dear friend
- the beauties of the lakeshore and the unique intricacies of each beach and the sunsets that take our breath away
- the prayers of faithful friends
- a good interview and the possibility that lies ahead
- for your amazing gifts and provisions
- knowing you are working all things together for my good
Now, it’s YOUR turn!
Scroll down to the “Share your extraordinary thoughts” below and tap in your ‘seven.’ You’ll be glad you did.
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