This past week I was at a conference in Los Angeles that was focused on developing effective internship programs for non-profit organizations. It was an interesting conference, and I appreciated learning more about how internships might help in our work at The Harvest. However, what I didn’t expect from the workshop was to be challenged in my own walk with the Lord!
Here’s what happened - about halfway through the conference, one of the presenters said, “Staying power is a rare thing in a microwave society.” The instructor was talking about the challenge of helping young people stay committed to the internship process, but for me, it was a statement that hit me directly between the eyes as a challenge to persevere in my walk with the Lord.
The reality of our world is that technology has made travel, communication, and even our daily chores incredibly time-efficient, if not instantaneous. The result is that we’re not getting trained in perseverance. We’re not used to pains that can’t be relieved, and problems that can’t be corrected quickly. So when problems do come up, all too often we send up prayers with the same expectation we have when we press the button on our microwave: "Just a few seconds, and this should be done!"
The challenge of course is that God doesn’t usually work that way. Instead, God is thorough and precise, and will not be rushed. He has a purpose in everything that happens in our lives - even the difficult things. Actually, it’s often the difficult things that God especially uses to help us mature in our faith. James 1:2-4 makes this clear as it tells us: “When troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”
There is no way to become a mature Christian without trials. It is the only way to grow. No one has ever become a true disciple without perseverance, and no one has ever persevered without pain - so we must learn to persevere, rather than give up. Author Corrie Ten Boom put it like this: “When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away your ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.”
So today, let’s ask God to help us persevere. As we see the challenges in our lives, rather than looking for escapes or relief, let’s ask God to help us see the benefit of the difficult things we’re going through. Let’s ask God to help us endure so that He can continue His good and perfect work in us.