It was hot and I was tired – and the mountain trail in front of me seemed to go on forever. As my delight in this beautiful journey quickly faded, I whimpered to my husband, “How much longer?”
Sometimes our hikes are longer than I want, and more than I think I can handle. I’m not the only one to wonder when a difficult path will end; King David asked God the same question. “My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long?” (Psalm 6:3)
“Let’s just go around one more bend,” my husband encouraged.
And I’m so glad we did! A valley unfolded below us, and a snowcapped peak towered over us as soon as we emerged from the trees. I would have missed this majestic display of God’s glory if I had given up just a few minutes earlier.
I have a tendency to give up too soon. I’ve quit gym memberships that became tedious and diets that didn’t deliver instant results; I’ve quit Bible studies that were boring and small groups that were draining. If I’m being really honest, I’ve even been tempted to give up on my ministry.
I know you know this, but ministry is hard. Even when you’re called and equipped, surrounded by a great team and guided by a solid vision – ministry is hard. Spiritual attacks are accompanied by personal setbacks, fears and excuses overwhelm, and family pressures mount.
The Apostle Paul knew that ministry is hard. In Acts 20:22-23, he told ministry leaders in Ephesus he would face “prison and hardships” as a result of his work. The Holy Spirit had been restraining and releasing Paul to travel to various regions, and the doors God opened for him were often prison cells. However, Paul also shares his secret for sticking to it in Acts 20:24:
I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me — the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.
If Paul had quit his ministry, we’d have missed the miracle of grace preached to the Gentiles (not to mention most of the New Testament and the church as we know it). If I had quit my ministry, I would have missed the miracle of watching God’s message change women’s lives.
Here are three lessons from Paul’s hardships and mine:
- Heed the Spirit more. Let the Spirit direct your steps, then trust Him in the hard places.
- Consider yourself less. When I focus on my thoughts, desires and emotions, I am quickly overwhelmed. A wise coach taught me to focus on the recipient of my ministry instead.
- Let others help some. Let faithful friends help clarify the God-given task before you, then ask for their assistance, input and prayer.
If you quit, the world will miss you. Don’t quit before your miracle.
What about you? Leave a comment sharing how this tip has inspired or encouraged you!