Have you ever reached a spot in your life when it seems absolutely pointless to continue down a specific avenue?
I am talking about those times when you have poured a great deal of time, talents and treasures into a project or a relationship and there seems to be no return. Or, even worse, perhaps the results of what you have put in have been negative.
So then you start thinking these thoughts.
That is it. I quit.
I am done with all of the mess and hassle.
I pour in so much and seem to be getting nothing out of this.
It is so frustrating to try and try and try, but never get anything back.
I expected bigger results by now.
I must not be the “right” person for the job.
Have you ever been in this place?
I admit that I have been there many times. I can honestly say that there have been times in my life that I probably gave up and called it quits too soon.
Read through this passage from Romans 5:3-5 NIV with me.
“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.”
Rejoice in our sufferings. How in the world do we do that? Who experiences joy in their suffering?
As followers of Christ, who are filled with the Holy Spirit, we can. Notice the wording says rejoice in our sufferings. It does not say rejoice because of your sufferings. It is not telling us to glorify the yucky stuff that happens to us in our life. It says that God has blessed us with the Holy Spirit to pour God’s love into our hearts.
God’s love is the purest and most unconditional love we will ever know. He is pouring it into our hearts. God will not disappoint us, but instead gives us a never changing constant to put our hope into. Even when we are suffering.
These verses also tell us that suffering produces perseverance. I will admit that if I had my way and could take a tray through life’s buffet line, I would probably pass on the suffering and opt for a big heaping portion of comfort instead. Believe me, I have asked God why it could not have been that laying around soft pajamas and fuzzy bunny slippers with a good cup of cocoa and a snicker doodle cookie would produce perseverance, character and hope.
Suffering sounds so painful. Just read through some of the definitions of suffer from webster.com:
- To experience pain, illness or injury
- to experience something unpleasant (such as defeat, loss, or damage)
- to become worse because of being badly affected by something
- to submit to or be forced to endure
I usually try to avoid all of these as often as I can.
But, as is so often the case, God’s way involves some cost. In this case, the cost of perseverance, of character and of hope is suffering. God wants us to be different. He wants us to be set apart. God longs for us to be in the world but not of it. I am pretty sure that He warns us that it will not be an easy assignment. Perhaps that is why He says in Luke 10:3 NIV, “Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.”
The truth is that God paid an even greater price. I am pretty sure there is no definition of suffering that Webster could ever produce that would do justice to the suffering Christ endured on the cross. Can you imagine the perfect hope that would result from that suffering?
So what do we do when it seems pointless to press on? Well, we turn to God and continue on. We trust that God will bless us with perseverance, character and hope. We keep going. We press on.
When the meetings feel like a complete waste of our time, we show up and we give our best to them. We do not work for man, we work for God.
When the relationship seems to be exploding before our very eyes or is already what appears to be a pile of rubble, we continue to pour out love the best that we can. That is what God does for us.
When the projects we are working on drain your energy and require the best of what you have but are quickly overlooked by others, we pray for strength and keep on working.
Through it all, we do what Jesus did. We press on when it seems pointless.
Treasured and Beloved Lord,
You persevered against all odds. You kept on going because You had the hope that God would get the glory from the end result every single step of the way. Lord, that is so very impressive. It is a good example for me to follow, but You are going to have to help me overcome my unbelief. So often I want to give up. I want to walk away. I want to throw my flag of defeat and retreat to my pajamas& slippers.
Help me to press on. Help me to not give up. Help me to rejoice over Your love, poured generously into me by the Holy Spirit, even when I am suffering. Thank You for suffering for me that I may have this hope to which You have called me.
In Jesus’ Holy name, amen.