While traveling around the world, Steve and I have met some extraordinary followers of Jesus. These people have been beaten, kidnapped and raped—in addition to a host of other trials—because of their faith. As I've had the privilege of meeting and talking with these brave souls, I've asked myself, What inspires them to keep clinging to their faith?
At conferences where I've spoken, I've also met folks who are battling cancer, or who have children in jail or have been wrongly sued. How do they keep going? What keeps them persevering in the faith?
The writer of Hebrews instructs us, "You need to persevere" (Heb. 10:36a, NIV). Persevering can feel difficult when you're writing a book, or raising toddlers, or trying to get out of debt, or finishing a degree—let alone when you're facing persecution because of your faith. So what's the key? How do we build resilience into our lives so that we don't crumble and quit when life feels hard? As I've been thinking about this, I've discovered three keys that will go a long way to strengthening your perseverance muscles.
3 Keys to Help You Persevere Under Pressure
Stay in constant communication with God. The writer of Hebrews says, "Let us draw near to God with a true heart" (Heb. 10:22a, MEV). Our temptation when suffering and sorrow hit is to doubt God's goodness. We wonder, "How can a good God allow this suffering in my life?" We need to remember that ever since sin entered the world, suffering and sorrow will be a part of our journey. In fact, Jesus warned us that hardship would be a part of the cost of following Him (Luke 9:23-25). None of us like hardship. But rather than pulling away from God during those times, press in more deeply to Him. Cling for all you're worth to what you know to be true about God. Rehearse His character traits in your mind. When doubt creeps in, declare out loud what you know to be true and then pray that the Holy Spirit will provide the grace you need for the moment.
Lean into your community. You were not designed to live life alone. We need each other. Hebrews reminds us, "Let us consider how to spur one another on to love and to good works. Let us not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but let us exhort one another" (Heb. 10:24a).
The truth is, we all need encouragement! If you're not in a place of hardship, be generous with encouraging those who are. Applaud their tenacity. Weep with them. Enter their sorrow. Tell them you admire how they are pressing into Jesus. Whatever you do, never try to encourage others by preaching at them or giving easy answers. That's discouraging. Instead, bring them a meal or have flowers delivered, and by all means, pray. But don't preach! No one needs a sermon when they're hurting.
Hold onto hope. When life feels hard, I remind myself that suffering—as much as I hate it—produces the fruit of righteousness in my life. If I surrender my pain to Him, God promises to use it and to strengthen me in the process. A wise mentor once told me that God never wastes our pain. He treasures our tears (Ps. 56:8). Friend, remind yourself that this present life is only a fraction of the eternal life we have in Christ. After we have suffered, we will receive what God has promised: a life of eternal joy with Him (Heb. 10:36).
I don't know what your struggle is at this moment. But I know that God is calling you to persevere. Sink your roots down deeply into Him, lean into your community and hang on to hope. The best is yet to come. Jesus is not dead, remember—He is risen! And He's cheering for you as you persevere!
Becky Harling, an author, certified speaker, leadership coach and trainer with the John Maxwell Team, is an energetic and motivational international speaker inspiring audiences to overcome their greatest life challenges and reach their full God-given potential. Her most recent book is How to Listen So People Will Talk. Her husband,Steve Harling, is the president of Reach Beyond, a nonprofit organization seeking to be the voice and hands of Jesus around the world. Connect with Becky at beckyharling.com, Facebook or Twitter.
This article originally appeared at beckyharling.com.
For more on persevering under pressure, listen to this podcast with Ryan Hall, American record holder for the half-marathon.
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