Strive & Stress, or Rest

by: Sharie King

“Go!” my coach shouts from across the gym. I wonder how many suicides we have left to run. I abhor the end of practice. Everyday, we shoot 10 foul shots. Then, for every Varsity player who doesn’t make 7 out of 10, we all run a suicide for each missed basket. Think about it. If 11 players only make 6, that’s 44 suicides. Absolute torture! 

There are two tricks to lessen the number of suicides. One, practice and make my shots. Two, just put my head down and do my suicides without complaining. If our team has a good attitude, coach is more likely to show grace when we feel like getting sick on the side of the court. On the other hand, all he needs is one bad attitude or complaint to get on his bad side. He'll increase our running just to prove a point. 

A good attitude is hard to find when I'm exhausted, frustrated, or things aren’t going my way. I wasn’t naturally hard-wired with a lot of patience or perseverance. I’ve had to learn them. 

I’m sure we’d all love to sail smoothly through life, all the time, and in every circumstance. But you and I both know that’s not going to happen. We'll encounter rough waters. We’ll encounter impossible, unavoidable and uncontrollable situations. We can either whine, gripe and become victims, or learn to suffer well. 

One way I've learned to suffer well, is to remember that I have an advantage when I face a trial. Since I am filled with God’s spirit, I can listen and learn from Jesus. Instead of complaining or failing, I can make the wiser choice. But, will I?

Ephesians 5:14-16 says, “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you. Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lordʼs will is.”

We don't have to be beaten down. Instead we can wake up, rise from the dead and let Christ shine on us. What does this mean? Instead of letting a difficult situations defeat us, we use them as opportunities to build our perseverance. 

"When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, ‘I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.’" (Genesis 17:1-2)

God promised Abram he would be the father of a great nation, numbering more than the stars in the sky. But, in the verse above, Abram has no children at the age of ninety-nine (his wife, Sarah, is ninety)! Why should he persevere and trust God any longer? Hasn't he waited on God long enough? The situation is physically impossible at this point. It seems like God isn't holding up his end of the deal.

Abram had his moments of belief and doubt like you and I, but overall he chose to believe. He chose to persevere in his faith. And within a year of these words in Genesis 17, his son Isaac is born.

Perseverance is choosing to trust in God's sufficiency. Perseverance is choosing to trust that nothing is too big for Him to handle.

When I remember that God gifted a ninety-nine year old Abram with a long awaited son, I remind myself that God is capable of taking care of my dreams too. When I remember that God is capable of doing so much more than I am, I can rest. I can stop striving. I can stop and trying to control my circumstances, my friends, my family, my finances, and my relationships. With the Holy Spirit’s help, I can trust Him to give me everything I need. 

But will I? It’s my choice to be wise or foolish.

It's your choice to be wise or foolish. It’s your choice to strive and stress, or to rest. Will you chose to trust Him with your education, your job, your children, your bills, or your relationships? Will you trust him with your pain, your regrets, or whatever is plaguing you today?

I don’t know where you are in your trust of God, but I pray this for you today: “The Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one…May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.” (2 Thessalonians 3:3,5)

Praying you move forward in faith and freedom until next time - Sharie King

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