I recently moved from Dallas, TX to Augusta, GA for a new position I took up with my parent company. The company I was with was going down for the last several years and I knew, sooner or later, I would have to change positions or seek a new job. I was fortunate enough to have been offered three different options to choose from. I had no doubt that it was God who opened up doors so that I could choose where I wanted to go.
The struggle I faced was the change it would bring in my spiritual walk and all the unanswered questions I had regarding family, friends, a new church, and getting the kind of spiritual encouragement I had received in Texas. It would have been easy to lose heart and to bring myself down by saying that none of those things would be available to me, to do whatever seemed most comfortable.
I have to say, in those first two months I was in Georgia, it was truly a struggle. I thought to myself, “Maybe I should create close friendships with my coworkers or just casually attend one of the large churches in the city and see how it goes from there.” When all this was going through my mind, I found quite a bit of encouragement looking at the life of Paul. The following passage describes everything that Paul had to go through and give up for the sake of his ministry:
Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. Are they servants of Christ?—I speak as if insane—I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches. Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern? | 2 Corinthians 11:22-29
Reading this passage really puts things into perspective regarding true perseverance. Paul was one of the greatest men of faith to stand for Christ. Just to see the trials and persecution he had to go through for the sake of the gospel really makes anything we have faced or will face insignificant. As we read from the passage, he had been beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, and put in danger, but through all that he stood firm in his faith.
How many of us have a testimony like that? Often times when a tough situation comes our way we consider taking the easy way out. For me it could have been to let go of spiritual encouragement and friendships and take comfort through my coworkers who are unbelievers. It could have been to avoid establishing a church home in the place God had brought me and to go to one of the large churches that wouldn’t require much on my part or had the most relevant activities going on for me.
So my question to you is: What is it that you are going through that you cannot take on any longer? Maybe for you it is a change of location, where God has pulled you out of your comfort zone and placed you in a setting away from your family, friends, and loved ones. Maybe you are involved in a ministry, where you have been laboring for a while and still haven’t seen any response yet. Maybe your Church is going through a period of complacency or apathy where folks aren’t taking up responsibility or you even feel unmotivated to be involved. Whatever the case may be, consider how God has led you up to this point in your life and how he has been with you all the way.
There may have been instances of discouragement, doubt, fear, or unmet expectations but he has never left you! He has been with you the entire way and He will show you which direction to go. This isn’t something we have to question, we can rest assured that God will continue the great work in us that He once started when he made us His children.
For my situation, I could have easily slid into a mindset of complacency and apathy for my lack of good Christian counsel or a strong church home, but I was blessed to have the doors opened to a great Bible chapel that is involved in the community, puts an emphasis on evangelism, takes the time to make everyone feel wanted and welcomed, and even allows for participation through the application of my spiritual gifts. It isn’t a perfect congregation in any way but that is what the body of Christ is: a group of imperfect people that finds perfectness through Christ! God is quick to answer prayers but all according to His plan and purpose. So if you feel like you are going through a rough patch, whether that is a relationship, Church-related problem, or a significant change in your life, remember God is always watching and He will never let you go!
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. | Philippians 1:6