Winston Churchill reminded us, "If you are going through hell, keep going." There is quite a bit of wisdom in that one! We might want to give up, but hell isn't our stomping ground! It may seem a bit like we are doomed to be there, but the truth of the matter is that we are to move through to the other side of whatever misery it is we are calling our 'hell' at this moment. God reminds us, "As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us." (Colossians 1:10-12)
There is a strength not our own that we rely upon when in the midst of something bigger than our capacity, or harder than our capabilities. It is God's strength we press into - the strength that keeps us moving forward - out of the hell we are enduring and into the grace we are bound for in the end. God makes us strong enough to endure the tough places - not just the easy places. We go through the tougher stuff with a hope - there is something bright and beautiful on the other side of it. If that seems a bit too 'Pollyanna' for some, I will not apologize. God's not going to allow anything to stand in the way of our 'moving through', but we may be stuck where we are because we have been trying to 'move through' without tapping into the strength he gives us. In the midst of 'hell', we learn some pretty valuable lessons. We learn more and more how God works! We may also learn just how ineffectively WE work.
Today isn't a 'cheer from the sidelines' for those enduring hardship - it is a rally call. A call to get up, get moving, and get through. I recount the toughest week of my life in Basic Training when we had to 'endure' all the 'final exam' type tests. The hardest for me was that final day of physical endurance testing. We did sit-ups, pull-ups, push-ups, and ran the mile - just to name a few. Combat boots and full fatigues didn't make any of it easy. The sheer number of each demanding test was so hard because there was absolutely no break in between each leg of the test. That run came at the end of all the other demanding physical endurance tests - a run that almost was my undoing. I wanted to quit - just sit down, rest a bit, and get my 'second wind'. What I didn't realize at the time was that the purpose was to show me there would be times in warfare when a 'second wind' opportunity would not be possible. I had to muster that 'internal will' to finish.
Many of us think we 'muster' that will all on our own, but the thing we don't recognize is God's Spirit within driving us forward when we don't want to go on any further. I could have sat down, taken the 'no pass' grade, and washed out of Basic Training. I could have cheated and taken a short-cut when no one was looking. There was no honor in either of those choices, though. Somewhere around the three-quarter mile mark, I put lifted my very tired head and asked God for the help. I had been looking at the beating of my boots upon the worn path, but when I lifted my eyes to see the trees around me, the sky above me, and the finish in front of me, a 'second wind' came. You may not think you will ever make it through this present 'hell', but maybe God is about to bring that 'second wind' that will drive you forward. Look up, look around, and trust what is within you. You are bound for the finish line, my friend. Just sayin!
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