My son, Nico, is 10 months and VERY active. He crawls around and pulls up to stand on whatever he can grab. He crawls over toys and dives into his toy box head first. While watching him play one day, I learned a remarkable lesson: most of the time, when he lost his grip and fell on his bottom, he did not even process the fall before he was reaching to stand back up again. He landed and almost immediately was trying to stand up again. Oh, if only we could stand up so quickly when life knocks us off of our feet.
Perseverance comes natural for him at this age, but at some point in our lives it gets much harder. The blows of life take us down and, sometimes, it takes everything we have to persevere. Since March of 2020 we have been dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. As we begin yet another year of turmoil, I am here to encourage us all to keep getting up, keep pushing forward. We are tired, but we must look to Jesus who tells us to come to Him with our burdens (Matthew 11:28-30). We can carry on because God is with us always (Joshua 1:9).
The Bible says in Philippians 3:12-14:
“12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
For context, Paul is writing this from prison.
“Philippians 1:7 states that Paul is in bonds. At Philippians 4:22 Paul states, ‘All the saints salute you, especially they 2 that are of Caesar’s household.’ These two statements clearly point to Paul’s two year imprisonment in Rome (AD 61 – 63). Due to Paul stating ‘but I trust in the Lord that I myself also shall come shortly’ (Phil. 2:24) we can estimate that Paul was in the last stage of his Roman imprisonment and fully expected to be released (~ 63 AD)” .
Paul was in prison encouraging the saints. I am not saying this to make little of our struggles. Our struggles are real, and they can break us down if we are not careful. I say this to say that, no matter the struggle, GOD IS ABLE (Jeremiah 32:27). Although we sometimes lift him up, Paul was just a man. God is the one who gives us the strength to keep moving forward and to bring others along in our victories.
Our goal is the upward calling of Christ. Our goal is to know Christ and to make him known (Matthew 28:18-20). Our goal is heaven (John 14:1-7).
Pressing on in our Christian faith can be very challenging in times such as these. We celebrated the holidays just to turn on the news and see the huge spike in COVID cases. We worry about our children and whether the virus will ever be a thing of the past, but climbing a mountain starts with one step; it continues by putting one foot in front of the other. Here are a few ways to persevere in your faith when your back is against the wall.
Do your part and let God do His. There are so many things in this life that we cannot control. There are countless effects from COVID-19 on our lives that are beyond the illness and the loss of life. On top of the countless lives we have lost, jobs were lost causing families to suffer greatly, schools were shut down causing the childhood depression numbers to skyrocket, supply chains were halted causing many industries to not be able to provide important goods—just to name a few. That short list alone is enough to break us; there is so much out of our control, but as my college coach used to say, “In every situation there are always at least two things you can control: your attitude and your effort.” Having a good attitude and trusting in God go hand in hand (Proverbs 3:5). Having a good attitude will not mean you are happy all the time, but it does mean even when you're sad you know who God is and what he can do (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
Have a fighter's mentality. I watch a lot of movies, specifically sports films. I do
not have the stomach to watch boxing, but in those movies, I love when the guy is down and the ref is counting; just when you think he will get to 10, the fighter stands up ready to keep fighting. We may get punched and need to lay there for a minute, but we have to get back up before it's too late and keep fighting. I love the passage in 2 Corinthians 4:
“7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. 8 We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 11 For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So then death is working in us, but life in you.”
Paul gave this encouragement to the Corinthians who were surrounded by idol worship. They kept the faith even though it was so hard because they believed the power is in God, not in them.
Reflect on what he has done for you. I have shared on this blog how hard January of 2021 was for our family. Please read my article “When the storms are raging” for context. I can now thank God for how he got us through it, and I can look at that time when another storm comes and know that God will be there. We all have a testimony. Let us not only use it to help others but to help ourselves, too.
As we go into 2022, let us focus on Christ and persevere in him no matter what life brings. The Bible encourages us in Ephesians 3:20-2:
"Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen."