Circumstances have been a little bumpy lately. I’ve had some physical challenges, along with stress at the office. Getting out of bed in the mornings has been a chore due to the physical issues. Some mornings I would have much rather stayed home than face another day.
Then God reminded me of endurance:
Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
Blessed is the one… who perseveres. Who keeps going. Who keeps praying even when getting a prayer out feels like pushing an overweight wheelbarrow up a hill.
When I’m feeling run down or burnt out, thinking about all I have in front of me can make the path ahead look intimidating. I want to give up before I start, retreat to a quiet place alone, and shut out the world.
But to run with endurance doesn’t require that I resolve all of my problems today. Nor do I need to accomplish a week’s work in 8 hours. I just need to focus on taking one small step forward at a time.
I need to take those steps with God; sometimes I lean on Him harder than at others. When I get out of bed I start telling Him that I need Him, asking Him to provide the wisdom and strength I need. Earlier this week I wasn’t feeling well, and kept pressing in with prayer; I didn’t know what else to do. As I prayed my faith sparked, and eventually there was a small breakthrough. God provided the energy I needed for the next step, and I kept going. The day flew by, and it seemed like only minutes later that I was on my way home.
Sometimes endurance requires persevering prayer. We keep praying until something breaks loose. The Holy Spirit brings a word of encouragement or direction to mind, or the burden we were carrying suddenly feels a little lighter. Maybe He brings a fresh awareness of perspective about the thing that was dragging us down, or perhaps there’s new burst of emotional or physical energy. Or maybe, we just break down and cry, releasing all of the exhaustion and pain we’ve been holding inside.
Once I get started, prayer can be amazing. Part of the struggle is that I allow myself to get so wrapped up in my problems that prayer is forgotten. Tearing our focus off ourselves and our problems and focusing firmly on Him is half the battle. But once I start pressing in with prayer, the Holy Spirit eases His way into my heart, where He amazes me with His grace and kindness.
A part of what’s so amazing about God’s grace is when He provides it; often, when I’ve been floundering in doubt or self-absorption, or have been unloving to others, God shows up and shocks with me. I have to confess that I’ve neglected my wife a little this past week, and haven’t spent the time with her I should have. This morning as I spent time with God, He brought the thought to my mind that in spite of my actions of late, my wife still loves me, and she was going to offer me a gift later that day. Incredibly, barely an hour later, this happened. God showed up again, giving me grace and blessing I didn’t deserve through the woman who I didn’t deserve it from.
Running the race with endurance only requires taking one step at a time. It also involves staying close to the Lord for that which we need to keep going. When times are tough and we’re ground to a pulp, we’re always just one small step away from the throne of grace.