We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment…” Romans 5:3-5
Have you ever found yourself going through a trial that just seemed to go ON and ON and you found yourself asking God if it was EVER going to end? I’ve been asking the Lord that question lately, wondering if this is something that I’ll have to deal with the rest of my life. In that place, I found myself squirming and resisting what the Lord was allowing. A dear friend reminded me of the peace that comes when we allow patience to weave its’ way around the trial that God, for some reason, is asking us to endure. Somehow the trial seems less painful when we stop squirming and surrender to God’s plan for our lives.
About 3 years ago my husband and I moved, and with all the lifting and moving of boxes, I found myself dealing with a lot of back pain. The physical therapist gave me some resistance bands to use when doing my exercises. Resistance forces us to apply ongoing effort in order to accomplish our goals. If done long enough and often enough, that resistance strengthens us; we learn to endure. This principle works in the spiritual realm as well. Sometimes God is preparing us for something, and we need the strength to stand once we get there. Psalm 144:1 says, “Praise be to the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle.” God knows exactly what trial will prepare us for the future, and he caters them to our needs. Sometimes it feels like life is a series of boot camps where we become equipped for the next thing we will walk through. The trials are like resistance bands that the Lord can use as resistance training to make us stronger. The thing about growing in endurance is that it takes time, and that can be SO frustrating. 1 Peter 5:10 assures us, “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”
The thing about endurance training is that we never know what others are going through. Some people’s resistance bands are bright colors, and it’s apparent to everyone what they are going through. Others have training bands that are barely perceptible because their trial isn’t something they can share openly. So let’s all be patient with one another, slow to make judgments about what others should and shouldn’t be doing. They may be in the heat of some big-time endurance training.
We all face times when we simply fight weariness because we’re STILL in a place of waiting. Waiting to see our prayers answered. Waiting for breakthrough. Daniel 7:25 says,
“He will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time.”
One thing that really encourages me when I find myself STILL waiting is a book by Francis Frangipane entitled, This Day We Fight. I want to share a quote from this book (pp 64-68):
“The prophet Daniel warns of a time when Satan, through the Antichrist, will seek to wear down the strength of God’s saints…on one level this battle is already going on today: Satan seeks to wear us out through delays (“alterations in times”)…The final effect of what seems like never-ending delays is that believers are worn out. Do you know anyone who is weary with his or her battle? Are you yourself weary? I know many who seem trapped in situations that should have been remedied months or even years ago, but the battle continues against them…As a result of satanic spiritual resistance, many Christians incrementally accept this resistance until a quiet, weighty, oppression rests on their souls…On the one hand, sometimes the delays are God-ordained to perfect faith and character. On the other hand, there are also occasions when Satan seeks to resist the fulfillment of God’s plans until we grow weary and quit. Satan is the dragon whose goal is to “drag-on” the battle with draining, wearying delays. He persists until we wear out, give up and quit praying…We lose patience, eventually seeking relief rather than victory.” End quote.
Maybe you’ve found yourself in this place. Longing to go to heaven prematurely because the battle has been long and hard. Longing for relief rather than victory because hope of victory is beginning to fade. The Bible speaks often of the rewards that await those who overcome. Overcoming assumes that there is something to overcome. This takes staying in the battle when we feel like our strength is all gone. It means crying out to God for His strength so that we can keep going. Scripture tells us that God delights to make us strong! Hebrews 6:11-12 encourages us,
“We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what was promised.”
Faith and patience, working together. Let’s not give up on the one yard line. We may be growing tired of the battle, but so is the enemy.
I remember when our kids were young. One of them was determined that they were NOT going to stay in their car seat. On the short drive to church I would sometimes have to stop three times to put them back in their car seat. One night, weary of the battle, I was dragging myself around the grocery store. So discouraged. I ran into another mom. One whose wisdom as a mother I really respected. I shared my story with her. “What am I doing wrong,? I lamented. “You aren’t doing anything wrong,” she said. “You are both getting tired of this. You just have to outlast them.”
I went home that night with a fresh resolve. The next time we went to go somewhere in the car, I looked my child in the eyes. “It doesn’t matter how many times you get out of your car seat. You WILL stay in your car seat. You are not going to get your own way on this. If I have to put you in your car seat a thousand times, you will stay in your car seat.” Done. That was the end of it.
Maybe it’s time we start declaring some similar things in the spiritual realm. Declarations that we will overcome, for our God is able to give us the victory. Things like,
- “I will overcome because my God fights for me.” (The LORD will march out like a champion, like a warrior he will stir up his zeal; with a shout he will raise the battle cry and will triumph over his enemies.” Isaiah 42:13)
- “My life will bear much fruit as I walk with God.” (“If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit.” John 15:5)
- “I walk in triumph through my God!” (Thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession.” 2 Corinthians 2:14)
- “The victory is already mine. I fight from victory, not for victory!” (You have given me your shield of victory; your help has made me great.” 2 Samuel 22:36)
- “I will not be shaken!” (I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” Psalm 16:8
- My prayers are powerful and effect change in this world (“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16)
When we hope in God, we will not be disappointed. Our time will come, and we will see the faithfulness of our God if we do not give up! May your hope in God be renewed today. May your faith stand strong and rest in the faithfulness of our God.
- “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9