Summary: How do we keep holding on when we feel like giving up? How do we find the strength to persevere, to go on?
Ever feel like giving up? Ever feel like quitting? Ever feel like your situation is so hopeless that the only thing you can possibly do is leave? Just walk away, head out the door and never come back?
In extreme circumstances, people can feel so much emotional pain that they take their own lives. Perhaps you’ve even considered that yourself. But the real reason people commit suicide isn’t the pain. It’s the loss of hope. It’s the sense that there’s no escape, no way to resolve their problems. It’s the conviction that things are never going to get better. They look and look for a ray of hope and only see darkness. That’s how Job felt.
"Oh, that I might have my request, that God would grant what I hope for, that God would be willing to crush me, to let loose his hand and cut me off! . . . . "What strength do I have, that I should still hope? What prospects, that I should be patient? Do I have the strength of stone? Is my flesh bronze? Do I have any power to help myself, now that success has been driven from me?"
"My body is clothed with worms and scabs, my skin is broken and festering. My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and they come to an end without hope. Remember, O God, that my life is but a breath; my eyes will never see happiness again."
- Job 6:8-12; 7:5-7 (NIV)
Job knew what it was to feel despair; to lose hope; to look into the future and see only darkness. He felt as though even death would be preferable to what he was experiencing.
· What relevance does Job’s struggle have to us? Why should we care how he felt when God took away everything he cared about - his family, his wealth, his reputation, his health? Because the temptation to give up, to lose hope, to despair, is universal.
* It’s the wife who is ready to give up on her husband and her marriage; rather than stay and keep trying to make it better.
* It’s the parents who are ready to give up trying to guide their rebellious teenage son.
* It’s the grown daughter who has tried over and over again to please her parents, without success, and is about ready to completely write off the relationship.
* It’s the pregnant teenager who can’t see any way out but to have an abortion.
* It’s the fed-up employee who wants to honor God with his work but is about [this] far from telling off the boss and walking out the door.
* It’s the victim of cancer who’s tired of fighting the illness and thinking of taking her own life.
The common denominator is a feeling that the situation is hopeless, that things aren’t going to get better. And when that happens, the temptation is to give up. Sometimes giving up takes the dramatic form of a suicide, a divorce, a worker who takes a gun to work with deadly results. But more often it takes the form of what Thoreau called, "quiet desperation." People going through the motions of a marriage or job; people maintaining the pretense of a relationship with their children or their parents, but who have in reality given up. Detached emotionally. Stopped working; stopped fighting; stopped caring.
All of us have faced this temptation, when it seems pointless to keep trying. Some of you are probably facing it now. You may be hiding it well; so that the rest of us would never suspect the struggle that’s taking place in your heart. But there’s an area of your life where you’re considering just giving up and walking away, regardless of what God says or the Bible says.
And the question for us as Christians is, How do we keep holding on when we feel like giving up? How do we find the strength to persevere, to go on? Where does the power come from to keep on keeping on? This morning I’m going to give you three key principles to store in your heart for that day when you’re tempted just to throw in the towel and give up.
Trust in God’s Sovereignty
First, God is sovereign. He is in control. No matter how hopeless, painful, unpleasant, or discouraging your circumstances are, He has a purpose for them. He has a purpose for you in the midst of them. And that purpose does not involve giving up. It does not involved despair. It does not involve abandoning your faith. It does not involve panicking. The struggle you are going through has meaning and purpose, because God is sovereign and He does everything for a reason. He doesn’t make mistakes. He isn’t surprised by what has happened to you.