Over the past few weeks, I’ve suffered several disappointments in my writing endeavors. Nothing devastating, but a few answers were “no” that I hoped would be “yes.” I’ve wondered if the course I’m set on is the right one. I’ve wondered if I should make changes. I’ve felt a bit discouraged.
I’m sure you can relate sometimes, whatever your own objectives may be. At times we are determined to change our eating and exercise habits only to find that we have little or no willpower. If we resolve to get our finances in order or begin a savings plan, money drains will suddenly appear everywhere. If my goal is to speak more kindly to my children, I am certain to be excessively provoked by them!
It’s tempting to quit an endeavor when:
- I’m not seeing any results (or not quickly enough).
- I’m using up energy, time, and perhaps money that I can’t afford. Other tasks may suffer. I ask, “Is the tradeoff really worth it?”
- I’m afraid the payoff may not be what I hoped for. I ask, “Will I be disappointed in the end?”
In the example of a fitness goal, you may be eating right and exercising but you’re not seeing the scale move much. You’ve devoted time and energy to this goal: preparing healthy meals and working out, but not getting the results as quickly as you’d hoped. You fear that you can’t maintain this lifestyle and won’t make progress anyway, so you quit.
One of my favorite words is Perseverance. Maybe because I’ve often lacked it. There are a multitude of things I’ve started and not finished. I have an unfinished cross-stitch sampler that I started in the late 1980’s. I worked on it for over a year, but it was complicated and eventually, I gave up. I determined once to learn to play guitar, but as soon as my fingers got sore, I abandoned the effort. I get excited about new projects but don’t always follow through.
In the spiritual realm, our goals are different. If we are God’s beloved children, then one of our goals is to see His Kingdom advance. We want to see the lost come to Christ, we want to see our churches thrive and grow. We also desire to see progress in our own lives; evidence that God is indeed finishing the work He began, that the Holy Spirit is truly working in us.
But sometimes it’s hard and discouraging and we think about giving up.
So here are a couple of things I’ve been reminding myself of. Hopefully you’ll be encouraged, too.
“You can eat an entire elephant with enough small bites.” This always makes me laugh! Think of these children devouring the elephant they are riding on. It would take a while, perhaps years. Every worthwhile endeavor or project requires countless steps. We can’t give up just because it is monotonous or gets difficult.
We’re told that those who persevere are blessed!
“As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” (James 5:11)
“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12)
I want to refute the temptations to give up with the truth of God’s Word:
Temptation #1: I’m frustrated that I’m not seeing results in myself or others quickly enough. This is not my place to judge! 2 Corinthians 5:7 tells us to Live by faith and not by sight. I can’t truly judge the spiritual progress of others, for only God sees the heart (Jeremiah 17:10, Romans 8:27).
Temptation #2: Asking if the tradeoff in time, energy and money is really worth it? The apostle Paul said, “What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him.” Philippians 3:8
Temptation #3 Asking if we will be disappointed in the end? Remind yourself of the end of the story. “To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” Revelation 2:7. “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” I Timothy 4:16
We are told that God is working in us, changing us, conforming us. He is doing the work, so we need not worry that the end result will be unsatisfactory. It’s not up to us!God is working in us, changing us. He is doing the work, so we need not worry that the end result will be unsatisfactory. It's not up to us! Click To Tweet
I Corinthians 3: 7-9 tells us that we each have a role to play in His Kingdom but that God ultimately brings growth and change . May we be reassured by these verses:
“So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service.”
So whatever it is you’re doing, if you’re convinced that God has called you to it, PERSEVERE!