I Want To Quit

3 steps to remember during the tough days.

Reading Time: 5 minutes

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.

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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.

God’s plan…

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.

Your turn…

Are you feeling overwhelmed? How do you overcome the desire to quit?  Share some ideas in the comment section below or on social media.

I would love to hear from you!  Feel free to comment below, on social media, or by email (andrewholm@gmail.com).  SUBSCRIBE HERE!

References   [ + ]

Trump or Clinton?

How does a Christian navigate the 2016 US election?

Reading Time: 4 minutes

At this point, I would think many Americans have their minds made up.  In fact, over 24 million Americans have already voted.1  There are “Christian” reasons to vote for either of these candidates. The question remains: who has God chosen to lead America and how will the world react?

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“Christian” Politics

I recently saw a diagram outlining the American characteristics of the left versus right politics.2

leftright_us_1416-1When you start describing the “Christian” view, it’s difficult to stay on one side or the other.  Here are some examples:

  • Christians should be inclusive, and yet protective of established morals.
  • Christians should be loving and build relationships of respect and trust, and yet tough love is often required to build discipline and a strong character.
  • Christians should help those in need to encourage unity and equality, and yet make the most of every opportunity and be great stewards of our resources.
  • Christians should pursue peace, and yet protect those who cannot defend themselves.

The problem in 2016 is that neither of the candidates fit perfectly into the ideal left or right, and neither are “Christian.” Clinton has proven to be untrustworthy, or even unethical at times, and Trump’s tactics are aggressively non-conservative.

My point is this – voting “Christian” is not an option.  American Christians need prayer so they can choose the leader God has already chosen. #Election2016 Click To TweetThe choice is between Clinton, who has few Christian morals but has some Christian polices, and Trump, who holds true to most Christian morals, but has few Christian polices. American Christians need prayer so they can choose the leader God has already chosen (Acts 1:24), not the “Christian” leader, because that’s not an option.

In God we trust…

As the Pledge of Allegiance and the US currency clearly states, the American people put their trust in God.  While many now don’t truly believe this, Christians certainly should because scripture tells us to do so. In the case of political leaders, we know God is completely in control!  Paul wrote:

“…there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” (Romans 13:1, NIV)

No matter the final outcome on November 8, God is completely in control and there is no need to fear.  American Christians need prayer so they can trust God, and not fear the outcome.

The Canadian Christian Reaction

I’ve watched the Canadian reaction during this election at a bit of a distance.  As a Canadian, I really don’t have much to say, other than pray for fellow believers as they try to navigate through the muddy waters.  If you’re Canadian, this is my advice:

  1. Pray – honestly and earnestly pray for American Christians as they go to the polls to vote. Pray that they hear God’s voice and vote accordingly.  Pray that they don’t fear the outcome, but put their trust in God’s direction. American Christians need prayer so they can trust God, and not fear the outcome. #Election2016 Click To Tweet
  2. Don’t advocate – you’re Canadian, not American. I wouldn’t expect Americans to understand Canadian politics either.  All I know is that the election is far from ideal and both candidates have pros and cons.  As Canadian Christians, should we be advocating one way or other? Probably not.
  3. Publicly state your support – as fellow believers, let American Christians know you support them. Let them know you’re praying for them and the results of the election.  If there’s one good thing about social media – it’s your platform to bring encouragement internationally.
  4. Pray for our government – Trudeau and his government will have to work closely with whoever is elected. Pray for wisdom, so that our leaders don’t lead out of fear.

Your turn…

Are you praying? How do you think Canadians should react to the election?

I would love to hear from you!  Feel free to comment below, on social media, or by email (andrewholm@gmail.com).  SUBSCRIBE HERE!

References   [ + ]