Those who are trying to make the biggest difference, those who are fighting extreme poverty and injustice, those who are under-resourced, under-manned and overwhelmed at the size of the task get tempted more often than others to want to quit.
Many times their courageous looking exterior is masking a very discouraged and tired interior.
Just recently I talked to some heroic, selfless people in my life, who were at the brink of possibly throwing in the towel.
I had sent a few emails to people who inspire me. They are making such a huge difference when it comes to global hunger, trafficking and our local homelessness issue. At the end of my emails, I tagged the scripture, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9
Their responses back were, “Wow, that verse couldn’t have come at a better time.” And then they shared with me their discouragement, weariness and doubt that they were making a difference. They said that verse reminded them again that Jesus said it would never be easy to serve the hurting and broken, especially when the rest of the world tends to look the other way.
The writer of Hebrews says, “Let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us.”
It is always easier to start something than to finish it.
The thought of changing our world is much easier than doing it!
How many of us have ever started a diet but within a week we had given up? Within a day? Within an hour? It’s just human nature:
When we want to follow Jesus and the prophets who said to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, father the fatherless, take care of widows and fight against injustice, the scriptures remind us that it will cost us something, maybe everything, but the scriptures also remind us that God will give us the power we need to do his will.
You can have the greatest intentions in the world but without a power supply greater then yourself, then you will run out of gas.
The apostle Paul reminded his prodigy Timothy that “God had not given him a spirit of fear, but of POWER, love and a sound mind.”
How do we live in God’s power?
It starts with surrender.
Something very powerful happens when we finally say the words, “I can’t do this on my own anymore!”
On Fifth Avenue in New York City, in front of the RCA building, there is a huge statue of Atlas, with all his muscles straining hold the world on his shoulders.
Atlas is facing Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, which is right across the street, and in the lobby of the church there is a shrine of Jesus as a boy, with no effort, holding the world with one hand.
You and I have a choice. We can try to carry the world on our shoulders, or we can say, “I give up, God, here’s my life, I give you my world.”
I also think it is important to remember that it is normal to get knocked down, fail, and to want quit.
But we must remember the words of Paul who said, “Even when we don’t know what to do, we never give up. In times of trouble, God is with us. And when we are knocked down we get up again.”
Emmitt Smith, the NFL’s all time leading rusher, ran over 10 miles in his record breaking career. His career yards per carry were 4.2. That means Emmitt was tackled 4370 times in his Hall of Fame career.
Imagine this: In the midst of running 10 miles, Emmitt was knocked down 4370 times by sweaty, angry 300 pound linemen.
Now imagine getting up this morning and because you know that jogging is good for your heart, cholesterol and weight management, you put on your running shoes and short shorts and you start running through your neighborhood. How far do you think you could go?
However long you decide you can run, now imagine doing that while getting knocked down every 4.2 yards by angry, sweaty 300 pound men. How long would you last? How long would I last?
That’s life isn’t it? About every 4.2 yards, in the words of John Madden, “BAM”, life hits you hard. Life seems to have 300 pound linemen hitting us from every direction. It seems each year these 300 pound linemen get faster and stronger.
Every 4.2 yards Emmitt Smith had a choice, “Am I gonna get back up again or am I gonna stay down?” He got back up 4370 times.
I’m sure he didn’t always feel like getting back up.
I’m sure there were times when he was hurt, discouraged and just plain tired.
Emmitt Smith kept breaking records, winning super bowls and motivating teammates because he kept getting back up.
A very wise prophet said thousands of years ago something that is just as relevant today. “The LORD gives strength to those who are weary. Even young people get tired, then stumble and fall. But those who trust the LORD will find new strength. They will be strong like eagles soaring upward on wings; they will walk and run without getting tired.”
Norman Vincent Peale wrote, “If you have no problems at all, I warn you, you’re in grave jeopardy. You are on your way out and you don’t know it! If you don’t have any problems, I suggest that you immediately race from wherever you are, jump into your car and drive home as fast as you can, and go straight to your bedroom and slam the door. Then get on your knees and pray, ‘What’s the matter, Lord? Don’t you trust me anymore? Give me some problems!’”
“Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13