A brief post taken from Jeff Sickles’ Snohomish Evangelical Free that deals with perserving through difficulty. The necessity of endurance especially when life is hard and difficult. I just wanted to take a breather and hopefully write something about pressing forward when life is hard.
“You need to spend time crawling alone through shadows to truly appreciate what it is to stand in the sun.”
“We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.”
Martin Luther King
And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good.
2 Thessalonians 3:13 NIV
Life can be very difficult and there can often be reminders of how hard it can be. I firmly believe that life is much more difficult than many people want to acknowledge. Plus as time passes I also believe life can become harder in so many ways. This past Sunday August 20, 2017 was my Mom’s birthday. It was the first birthday since she passed away on April 1, 2017. Part of the day I wept due to the fact that I couldn’t call my Mom and say “Happy Birthday” like I have always done. Then there have been other challenges in life as well. From watching a family grieve to having a sinus infection that is aggressive and keeps popping back up.
Life is difficult but the key to moving forward is perseverance. After all, what are the alternatives? In knowing my Mom in all likelihood she would have reached out and said “life goes on, you have to continue.” That said, while I know that I still struggle because of grief. In hardships and pain people must move forward and continue to live. In some cases perhaps it will be a loved one or a friend that they can lean upon during those difficult cycles of life. I am not going to promise you a rosy picture of the future. I am not here to mislead you at all. But I do believe that life can, and does indeed get better. The key is perseverance, and that in the course of time things will get better quite a bit. One aspect to think of, the painful times of life that one is experiencing will help you appreciate the good times of life when they do indeed occur. Life will be filled with both pain and joy. I look at my families’ history or even my own and find that to be the case.
Jeff Sickles of Snohomish Evangelical Free in Snohomish, Washington wrote a post on his church blog on December 7, 2016 that I want to feature. Its a reflection on dealing with life amidst hardship and finding endurance. This is not the first time I have written about Jeff. in July of 2017 I wrote about him in, “Jeff Sickles of Snohomish Evangelical Free in Snohomish, Washington on Learning to Lament.” With that I want to turn over the remainder of this post to Jeff. That’s it for the day guys!
With the cold weather finally arriving, we are getting ready to move the goldfish from our barrel water features in the back yard to a fish tank to winter over. Usually the fish die or get eaten (not by us), so this is a new process, but it did remind me of a surprise we got early in the spring last year. After the winter freezes had finished and the spring bloom was beginning, we decided it was time to clean the pond liners from the debris they accumulate over the winter and the algae we didn’t get out during the “winterizing” process.
As we were emptying the ponds we were shocked to find a gold fish that had successfully wintered over! Somehow, it had found a pocket of water that didn’t freeze, managed to find enough algae and plant matter to eat and lived in a half whiskey barrel pond all through the winter. We didn’t know the fish was there and were as surprised to see it as it was to see the water draining out of its little world. Persistent little critter!
It may seem a bit odd to take encouragement from a fish, but I do. That little gold fish did what it could to stay alive. Life can be hard, the different tasks and assignments challenging, and there are plenty of obstacles to discourage us along the way. Yet we are called to preserve. We have a whole series of wonderful words to refer to the art of seeing something through to its conclusion: persistence, perseverance, endurance, steadfastness, determination, indefatigability, resolution. This is a rich vocabulary, maybe because we need so much encouragement in this virtue.
This theme of enduring is found throughout the Bible. God encourages people to “be strong” in a variety of ways in the narratives of the Old Testament. The New Testament authors repeat this idea as they encourage us to endure. The message is common because it must be necessary to be reminded. The message is common because we must struggle regularly with wanting to give up.
I think that one of our Enemy’s favorite tactics is to discourage us. At the same time, God wants to grow us in faith and hope, both virtues that are based upon the unseen. Taken together, these two realities guarantee that we will need to “soldier on” at times without visible results to encourage us.
We live in a culture that is immediate and likes what is “value added” (which usually means, has results which can be seen). But the life of faith is not immediate and sometimes the “value” is hard to discern because it only yields fruit over the long haul. We need to persevere in doing good, in pursuing righteousness, in seeking justice, in forgiving, in prayer. Christ persevered, and to walk in His way means we do too.
That little fish made it all through the winter, in spite of the water freezing and his regular food supply being cut off. As Christians, we are equipped by the Holy Spirit, so we should be able to endure far greater things knowing there is a far greater future to look forward to.
Pursue Christ – He is enough,