Dreams, goals, ministries, vocations, or callings create excitement in us at their inception. The Lord may drop something into our spirit, we may get a phone call, an unexpected opportunity presents itself, or perhaps as we are going about our daily lives, a God-honoring idea comes to us and immediately begins to take shape. However these dreams begin in us, almost always, they arrive with anticipation and energy. We can’t wait to begin!
We may experience a little difficulty actually starting, or perhaps we are able to dive right in. Just starting often does take some grit. But we eventually get over that hump, and we delve into this brand new world….It’s so exciting!
….And then….What? Where oh where has the passion gone? What do we do now? Hours were flying by before and the work was effortless, but now? Is this like just another job? Just another goal? I’ll fail or give up? Reality hits. Hard. Inspiration disappears. Energy wanes. Other things get in the way. In other words, it just gets hard.
This has been my recent experience. I actually was stoked and excited to get back to it – this ministry that I felt God has called me to – and then stuff just started happening.
I spent a lot of time and energy on a personal project that was important to me and helpful – but it completely sapped my creativity and time. We went on a ministry trip and it was awesome! But my schedule was completely destroyed, and I lost a week. Then sickness hit our household, and when my son was supposed to be returning to school, he actually was at home, with me, 24/7. Then I started dealing with some distracting health issues. Then, then, then… It just seemed like stuff kept happening. What I’m trying to say is, it got hard.
I know you can relate. Ever begin working on a new goal zealously only to completely abandon it at the first sign of resistance? Maybe you’re just one of those people who has dreams and aspirations but just can’t ever seem to find the right time to begin. I can relate to that, also. Or, perhaps, you jumped at a new opportunity that seemed so right, but it fell through. And now, you’re left wondering what to do.
Well, I’m just going to spend some time encouraging us all today. As the saying goes: Nothing that is worth doing is ever easy. Alright, challenge accepted. I feel some grit returning, do you?
How to Persevere When It Gets Hard
1. Get gut-honest with God. Christians often say “pray” in answer to life’s hardships. And that is the right answer! But generic, half-hearted, lackadaisical prayers won’t get it done. You have to be gut-honest with God. Pour out frustrations, ask Him how to begin or continue. Ask Him to reassure you that this thing is something that He put on your heart. If you haven’t ever asked God for very practical help, the time to start is now. He cares, and He will help. But you have to be honest and you have to ask!
Pray about everything (Philippians 4:6)
2. Tell the truth about what you’re experiencing. We are really good at ignoring root issues and allowing surface issues to dominate our thinking. Just like all of the excuses I have recently had, practically speaking, I have also had to take a deeper look and realize that I was discouraged and looking for an easy way out. I started looking at jobs online, again, and whenever I do that, I know it is avoidant behavior!
I know that God has called me to this, but sometimes I just want something easier. Being creative, coming up with content, and being self-disciplined are not strengths of mine. I want someone to tell me what to do, and then I’ll knock their socks off with how awesome I do what they’ve asked! But when I’m my own boss, it’s really easy to procrastinate and come up with excuses. I have to remind myself that there will always be reasons to quit, but that God is doing something in me and through me. And I just have to keep taking the next step, however little, and however slow it may be.
3. Encourage yourself. Whatever shape this takes, just do it. Perhaps it’s creating (or finding) biblical affirmations based on Scripture that can give you a pep talk. Maybe it’s talking with a real-live friend and asking – straight up asking – for them to encourage you. Listen to a podcast, read a book, read the Bible outloud from your favorite passages (and Google “encouraging biblical passages” if you don’t know where to start). The point is to get active and realize where you are mentally. And DO something about it!
David encouraged himself in the Lord his God (1 Samuel 30:6)
4. Just do something! The inertia that comes from distractions and difficult seasons may be the hardest part to overcome. You just have to get yourself in motion. Do something. Do it messy, do it scared, do it kicking and screaming, but just do it! I believe that you’ll find that once you’re in motion, it’s easier to stay in motion, and the emotional lift you’ll get will help carry you on to the next task.
5. Fight for it. I tend to blame myself for things most often. I do blame shift, at times, but when something goes wrong, I usually find guilt when looking at myself. However, if you’re like me, if we are too quick to always take the blame when life gets hard, we will ignore the very real truth that we are engaged in spiritual warfare. If God has called me to something, whether to improve myself by goal-setting or beginning a new ministry, or whatever it may be, Satan will fight. I have to remind myself of this time and time and time again.
Yes, it’s true that my personal weaknesses may be contributing to the problem; however, Satan is the pro-exploiter of weakness. He hits where it hurts. If something is causing me to be distracted from a direction God is taking me in, I can be assured that there is more to this than just my personal shortcomings.
We need to stand up and fight. When we are discouraged, our posture is down and defensive, perfectly poised for defeat. We need to shake ourselves and fight for the ministry that God has called us to! He who began a good work in us WILL complete it!
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)
You Have What it Takes
In sum, you have what it takes. God has equipped you with not only the dream, but what you need to accomplish the dream. When the going gets tough, the tough get going! Now go get back on that wagon and see what God will do!