Don’t give up.
It’s a great idea. It’s a great mantra. It’s a great pep talk.
But is an idea, a mantra, a pep talk enough? Is it enough to tell myself, “Don’t quit, don’t give up”, when I’m facing the hard, the unbearable, the scary stuff of life? When quitting would be easier, safer, more comfortable?
And sometimes I have to wonder, what am I striving for? In this no-quitting, just-keep-going living, what is the point? Am I doing just for the sake of doing?
We live in a world of contradictions. We are told to chase our dreams and never give up on them. We are told to follow our hearts and persevere even when everyone thinks we can’t do it. But at the same time, we’re told if it doesn’t feel good and if it doesn’t make us happy, to stop doing it.
In Scripture, there are many places where we are called to persevere in our faith. Even when facing the hard, the unbearable, and the scary. Even when it’s not easy, safe, or comfortable. Even if it doesn’t feel good or bring a giddy smile to the face.
In those times, persevering and enduring can be difficult to do. Being persistent in prayer when God seems silent. Enduring rejection and hardships when there’s no relief in sight. Keeping on with rejoicing and thanksgiving when surrounded by loss. Persevering in seeking God’s will and aligning my life with His character when He seems distant, and I’m just not sure what this life is supposed to look like. Continuing in studying God’s Word when it’s promises don’t seem to be a reality in my life.
In the book of Hebrews, right in the middle of a call to persevere, we are given instructions on how we can persevere:
By His death, Jesus has made it possible for us to enter right into God’s presence. We don’t have to wait in a line or go through another person or only come to know Him through another’s experience. We can talk and walk with God every day, every moment. This is a personal, love relationship between God and me.
By His death, Jesus has made us new and has given us life. He died the death we deserved, so now we can live in Him.
Hebrews 12:1-3 says, “And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.”
This is the life we are persevering in. We are persevering to know God more and to live a life that is aligned with His character and will. We are enduring in what God has called us to do, focusing on Jesus, remembering all He has done for us because of His love for us, living the life He has made possible: a love relationship with Him. Sometimes, we are tempted to give up on this life. But here is what the writer of Hebrews tells us we can do to persevere and not give in to this temptation to quit:
Enter into God’s presence
Jesus has made it possible, and God is always present, so let’s enter into His presence. In those times when God seems far away, persevering is hard to do. But in these times we need to continue to press into Him and seek His face through prayer and through His Word.
In Matthew 7 Jesus says, “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” (vv. 7-8) In our seeking God, He will be found by us. In our asking for help, direction, and provision, He will give us what is good and what we need. In our knocking on the door of His Word, He will open it and reveal Himself to us.
In the good. In the bad. In the ugly. Don’t lean on your own knowledge and ability. Don’t try to control everything or figure it all out on your own. Trust in God. Rely on Him for strength and know that He is working, in the good, the bad, and the ugly. 1 Peter 4:19 gives us this promise: “So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you.”
Know you are cleansed and free of guilt
The devil will try to make you feel ashamed and guilty to keep you from entering into God’s presence. He will attempt to make you feel like a failure and not good enough to keep you from pursuing the life God calls you to live. He will tell you that can’t do it, so that you will stop persevering.
But this is not who you are. Jesus’ blood has purified you. You are washed whiter than snow. There is no condemnation for you in Christ. You can do all things through Christ. Including persevere.
Hold onto hope
Hope tells us that things are going to get better, even when it seems impossible. God has many promises for His children, and He will be faithful to keep them, so we can place our hope in Him and stand on these promises.
Encourage and support one another
Surround yourself with those who are going to encourage you in the faith; who are going to support and uplift you in the hard times. Think of ways you can be an encouragement to others. The hard, the unbearable, and the scary becomes a little less hard, a little more bearable, and a little less frightening when we are walking through it with those God has placed in our lives to help and encourage.
In our persevering to follow Him, God will not forsake us or disappoint us. As we continue to seek Him and do His will, He will fulfill His promises, and things will get better. This is our hope. This is the joy set before us.
Don’t give up.