…is your life full of difficulties and temptations? Then be happy, for when the way is rough, your patience has a chance to grow. So let it grow and don’t try to squirm out of your problems. For when your patience is finally in full bloom, then you will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete. James 1:2-4
Sometimes the most powerful thing you can do is to put one foot ahead of another.
That insight came to me through a great little devotional book (“Promises of Hope for Difficult Times”) by Jane Kirkpatrick.
She says she asked a group of second graders to describe what the word “powerful” meant to them. After discussing the usual definitions, one little boy “…in the front row took my breath away when he said, ‘Oh no. Powerful is when you want to quit but you keep going.’”
Wow. Took my breath away, too.
For I have been going through a difficult period, as you know. And when you’re in one it often feels as if everything is wrong. The losses just seem to pile up and threaten to overwhelm you.
Last week, along with the recurring illness, I found myself grieving winter. Yes, I know I “should” be happy for the first signs of spring, but I’m not. I loved the fun I used to have in the winter, the people I used to have it with. Lately, winter—and skiing–is over ‘way too soon. And the people I cherish have died or are unable to ski anymore. For example, our old leader now has dementia, drifts away daily. My heart breaks.
I must accept a new normal…there, as well as other areas of my life. I’ve never accepted changes well. There are moments when I just want to quit.
Every athlete knows that more time in practice means better performance in competition. Those muscles must be stretched and worked and taught to endure so you won’t quit when the going gets hard. The results are worth the pain.
James tells us these life-trials are similar. We have a chance to stretch and work out our muscles of faith. We must develop patience, which Kirkpatrick says means “endurance with calmness.”
If I want that patience and power, if I want to be “ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete,” then I can’t quit, either.
I must keep on fighting for my health, seeking moments of joy in my right-now life, trusting that my God is with me, that He loves me and has better days ahead.
I must believe the results will be worth the pain.
FATHER GOD: Help me to keep on keeping on. Amen.
First published March 26, 2017.