What do we do when we’re faced with difficult days? We have two choices – run or grow. It’s easier to run; we don’t have to face the pain. If we run, however, we’ll be certain to face the situation again. It’s harder to grow; we have to face the pain. If we grow, however, we’ll become stronger and more mature.
We inherently know that we have to grow. So why do we sometimes feel like quitting?
A painful day…
A little while ago I was faced with a difficult day. My plate was full of conflict, stress, building renovation problems, parishioners sick, budget constraints, and on top of that, our family is getting ready for baby #2.
The day was so overwhelming, I wrote these painful words in my notebook: “I WANT TO QUIT!” I wrote it all over the page. I wrote it in the margins. I wrote it over the letters that I already wrote. I rewrote it over in my head.
That evening, when I walked in the door, Deidre (my wife) knew something was wrong. She could see it on my face. “This is one of those hard days,” I said.
I vented some of the story – my feelings, hurt, pain and struggle. I couldn’t share all the details; I’m a pastor.
She looked at me and said, “This is why people quit.”
I smiled and humbly replied, “Those words have haunted me all day.”
But in those moments of honesty we both agreed – this is also when God is able to take that pain and our weakness and graciously turn them into growth and strength.
Pain can get the better of us. We put blinders on and we forget three fundamental steps in realizing God’s overall plan. Isaiah 40:27-31 outlines them perfectly for us. This isn’t a special 1-2-3 formula; rather, a framework of thinking that will refocus our pain (our weakness) towards God (our strength).
27 Why do you complain, Jacob? Why do you say, Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God”?
28 Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:27-31, NIV)
STEP 1: Recognize we’re tempted to TEST God.
Humanity has been tempted to test God from the beginning. Adam and Eve were tempted to question God (Genesis 3), the Israelites were tempted to question God (40:27), and we continue to do the same today. The pain is so great that we question God’s ability to bring us through it. The good news is, that that’s a normal response. Our humanity demands this spiritual struggle. No matter how much our humanity may derail us, however, God still loves us. We have to recognize that the temptation is coming so we can move on to the second step.
STEP 2: Listen when God responds with the TRUTH of His promises.
His #promises are all around us!...He knows our #pain and He’s waiting for us to recognize it. Click To TweetIsaiah responded with the truth: The everlasting God, the creator who never grows tired or weary and understands us completely, gives us the strength we need” (40:28-29). The problem is, we don’t always listen. The Israelites should have remembered God’s faithfulness to bring them out of Egypt (Exodus 14), but in their time of pain, they were blinded by their circumstances.1 We have to point back to a testimony in our lives or listen to the testimony of others. The truth of His promises are all around us! He sees us, He knows our pain and He’s waiting for us to recognize it.
STEP 3: Let go and start to TRUST in God’s strength.
We all get tired. Isaiah said that even youth need rest (40:30). But no matter how we feel, we have to let go and start trusting in God. If we do, God will RENEW us (40:31). Literally translated: God will exchange our weakness for His strength.2 We are gifted with a portion of God’s everlasting strength. Paul wrote it this way: “Clothe yourself with Jesus,” and “put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (Romans 13:14; Colossians 3:10). All we have to do is let go and trust in Him.
If we put our TRUST in Him, He will clothe us with strength that covers our weaknesses. Click To TweetIf He has called us to do what we are doing, and we put our TRUST in Him, He will clothe us with strength that covers our weaknesses. We will run and not grow weary, we will walk and not be faint.
Are you feeling overwhelmed? How do you overcome the desire to quit? Share some ideas in the comment section below or on social media.
References [ + ]
|1.||⇑||Barry Webb, The Message of Isaiah (Downers Grove, IL: Inter Varsity Press, 1997), 165.|
|2.||⇑||Herbert M. Wolf, Interpreting Isaiah (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1985), 187.|