Have you ever felt like you just can’t go on at times in life? I think that we all go through seasons of struggle in which we wonder, what is the purpose of all of this? In some ways, it is similar to what a marathon runner goes through. There comes a point in the race in which they are physically and mentally tired. They hit that proverbial wall. In that moment, they have a decision to make, will I push through or will I quit? They have trained their body in the weeks and months leading up to the event. Therefore, it is not a question of whether or not they can physically complete the marathon. It is a question of mental toughness and resolve. As many pastors have said, the Christian life is a marathon, not a sprint. There always comes that time or those times in which we must remind ourselves of who Jesus is, what He has done, and what He has promised to do for His children. The apostle Paul understood the mental strain that comes at times of being a disciple of Jesus. He suffered more than anyone other than Jesus. Yet, we see him not only run his race, but complete it well. How could he do that? 2 Corinthians 4:16 says, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.” Paul was able to get up day after day, and be faithful because as he said, he was renewed day by day. How can you and I do this?
- Focus on Jesus. Paul ends 2 Corinthians 4 by talking about the hope that was in him. His hope was not in what he could see, but rather what he saw by faith. He knew that Jesus was with him, and that everything he experienced in life had a bigger purpose than he could understand in that moment. This is why the writer of Hebrews encourages us to “look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.”
- Take it day by day. I have always laughed at the sports world for one thing. One the official injury reports, they have a category that is listed as “day-to-day.” That cracks me up, because we are all day to day. Notice what Paul says, “the inward man is being renewed day by day.” Paul wasn’t focusing on and living for the end of the week, or next month, or next year. He was taking each day as it came. This has to be our mentality. Jesus said in Matthew 6 that we shouldn’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will take care of itself and we have enough to deal with today. So often we focus on what might happen tomorrow. There are two issues with this. First, most of the time the things that we worry might happen, never end up happening. Second, we don’t even know if we are going to have a tomorrow. Focus on what is right in front of you.
- Trust that God will renew you. Paul said that his body was wearing out. Yet, inside he was full of energy and strength. How is this possible? It is possible because Paul was relying on the Holy Spirit each day. Every day, God renewed His strength in Paul and every day God gave Paul sufficient grace for what he would face that day. If you wake up tomorrow morning, you can trust that God will give you sufficient grace and strength for the day.
- Know the end so you can enjoy the journey. Paul knew that one day his life was going to come to an end. He felt like that day was getting closer. However, he knew that he had trusted in Jesus to save him; therefore, Paul didn’t have to worry about when the end would come. Yes, Paul’s body was beaten and worn out. Yet, inside he was young, energetic, and vibrant because he knew that one day he would lay down his body, and his soul would go to Jesus. Every day brought him that much closer to his faith becoming sight. This is how he could continue on through the trials of life.
What is your hope? How do you cope with the difficulties and stresses of life? You can try it in your own strength, and you will eventually realize just how weak you are. Or you can trust in the Lord with all your heart, depend on Him, and receive grace and strength that is sufficient for each day. You might be feeling like all the pain and suffering doesn’t have a purpose, but it does. You may feel like you aren’t making a difference, but God through you is making a difference. Don’t give up, don’t slow down, and don’t lose heart. Just a little bit further, and you will see the One who loved you enough to die in your place. Where He is, you will be also. Let that encourage you and put a little pep in your step today.
By His grace and for His glory,