I find myself saying that a lot lately.
I’m tired of waiting. Tired of believing for things. Tired of doing everything I know to do to get breakthrough. Tired of the same problems, sin struggles, lies I’m believing.
There have been many times over the past month where I have wanted to abandon all promises and fully embrace cynicism. If you know me, you might find it hard to believe… but there is a sort-of pessimist in me that tries to make an appearance every once in a while.
He mocks me. He says things like “This. This will always be broken.” or “Breakthroughs are for everyone BUT you.” or “A car? You really believe God’s going to give you a car? Let’s be practical. There are bigger things that He’s worried about.” or “You just CAN’T stop sinning can you? You just have to keep going back to the same. old. things.”
He’s a jerk.
I’m finding there’s more to this whole “perseverance” thing than I’ve ever given it credit for.
Walking with God is hard. It’s not supposed to be easy, I don’t think. In fact, what I’m learning is that perseverance, choosing to hope, is a bigger part of the Christian walk than most people realize.
“Therefore, I am READY to persevere and STAND MY GROUND with patience and endurance for the sake of the elect (God’s chosen), so that they too may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with the REWARD of eternal glory.” – 2 Timothy 2:10.
Sometimes, breakthrough can happen in an instant. Those are the stories we love to hear. The stories where someone was set free from drug addiction in an instant moment, where as soon as someone turned it over to God, they FINALLY got a job (and a dream job at that), where finances appeared out of NO WHERE and money for water bills and mission trips showed up between couch cushions and in coat pockets.
Those are the stories we want to hear. Those are the ones we pass around.
Sometimes breakthrough comes through perseverance. Sometimes, after years of fighting a waging war inside of you between your flesh and spirit, little by little, you get free.
Sometimes, you’ve been trying your hardest to stand firm on a promise from God but waves, winds, and tornadoes it seems have knocked you off of it so many times you can’t even count. But after each blow, you keep crawling to the top, exasperated and weary, and standing back up.
Sometimes, the sweetest revelations of God’s abundant grace come in the middle of weariness… of mustering up enough strength to stand to your feet, look the enemy in the eye and say “You might have won that one battle… but you will not win the war.” … after days, weeks, months… years.. of fighting.
Sometimes breakthrough isn’t instant.
In fact, God didn’t say that when I started following Him, I would get everything He promised instantly. That was never a part of the deal.
What He did say is that He is trustworthy. His promises don’t return void. So if He says something will happen, I can pick my weary self up, stand on the promise again, and shout into the bleakness “NO. MY GOD IS FOR ME.”
Paul understands this perfectly in Romans. I love it. I read it this morning and almost cried. I’ve read this a million times but today it hit me like never before. Today I realized I wasn’t alone. He writes… (bear with me. This is powerful)
“What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise… I need something more!!! For if I know the law but STILL can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I OBVIOUSLY need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t DO it. I decide to do good, but I don’t REALLY do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I TRULY delight in God’s commands but it’s pretty obvious not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me?… The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something TOTALLY different.” -Romans 7:15-25
This life of contradictions.
My life is such. “I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am [so often] pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.”
This blog is filled with my personal convictions and encouragements. But, to tell you the truth, I am waging a war inside myself to live out many of the things I write about.
But that’s what makes God SO good. That’s what makes His mercy, grace, and love for me so utterly mind-blowing. If I could earn salvation on my own through my good behavior, what would be the point?
So I will continue to wage this war. Not for the sake of earning my salvation. But for the sake of believing that God’s promises for my life are actually true. Breakthrough WILL come. I will choose perseverance. Because perseverance produces character. And character produces one of the strongest things of all, something that keeps my heart healthy and beating when things seem desolate… Hope.
My friend Sara wrote an amazing post about something similar that you should all read. Now.