Saturday, March 20, 2010

Don’t Quit

When my kids want to give up on something I always give them the good motherly lecture about completing things. Piano lessons is a great example. They hate it and they hate practicing. I tell them the importance of sticking to a task no matter how hard it is. I remind them of the joy of knowing you saw something through to the end. And I know I’m right because I’m the Mom. And because we need pianists in our church.

But sticking with things is hard. Yesterday I wanted to give up. I was tired, hurt and had lost heart. I hate difficulty so much that it seemed easier to quit and walk away. I was too tired to think about things logically. If I did, I would realize that just because the road I’m on is hard, doesn’t mean another one will be easier.

The word that I found yesterday was perseverance. Perseverance is the patient endurance of hardship. It’s talked about a lot in the Bible because God does not promise us an easy life. He promises us hardship and times of testing. It’s really no fun. That comes as a rude awakening to me because I grew up in happy Christian land. Since I follow Jesus everything should be great.

So why should I persevere? And where is God? Has he turned his back for a while? I could stick it out until I feel better. But there are no promises of anything getting better in this life. Ever. So it’s not stick it out because it will be ok. It’s stick it out because God is at work in you. Unseen changes in your heart and life are what He’s after.

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Really? God is less concerned about my happiness than the condition of my heart? He might allow hard things to make me cling to Him, hope for His return, become less prideful, become a better wife and mother? Those heart changes are unseen things. Until you start to act on them. Maybe you forgive someone, or reach out to someone in need. Then the hardship is producing maturity.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4

When we face the tough times, perseverance must finish its work so that we can be mature and complete in Christ. Without hardship I would be a flabby Christian and trust me, I’m flabby enough already. Why would we care about the hurting if we had never been hurt?

So then I realize that there is joy in the hard times because of the work God does in us. I can look back over my life and wish things didn’t have to be hard or change but I cannot wish that I was the person I used to be. I’m so thankful for where He’s brought me and the things He’s shown me.

And as I try to help my kids persevere they need to see that God is working in them. The point isn’t just to hold out until it gets better. We need to hold on until Jesus finishes the work. That may not even come in this life. But then we won’t be lacking anything. We may have less, we may be weary, we may have had pain but we will have Christ. And after persevering through tough times for a while, that’s the only thing that matters.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangle, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1

1 comment:

SahlbergFamily said...

Waaa, I have to be holy not happy!? :)