Summary: You can quit the struggle to finish the course. If you do, the impact of your life will be insignificant. If you stand firm, the impact of what you do now for Christ will yield eternal results.

“Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” [1]

Becoming a United States Navy Seal is arguably among the most difficult accomplishment to which any person can aspire. The training required to earn the Trident is rigorous, demanding, pushing the SEAL candidate to limits beyond anything they might ever have thought possible. For seventy-one weeks, the candidate will be deprived of sleep, food, and comfort. They will spend hours on end immersed in cold water followed by physically demanding tasks. Sleep will become a luxury during those weeks until they earn the right to wear the Trident—or until they quit.

You see, at any time the candidate can walk up to a bell that is hung in the centre of the compound for all to see. It is a simple brass bell, but the purpose of that bell is known to each individual that embarks on the months-long rigorous training. Only one percent of those who enter into training will complete the course—it is that demanding. Many will be sent to other jobs within the Navy because they couldn’t meet the demands. Most who fail the course will ring that bell which is hung in the centre of the compound. They will have reached the limits of personal endurance, discovering that they have no more to give; and so they will ring the bell.

When a man reaches the limit and becomes convinced that he has no more to give, he can stand up, walk to the bell, and ring it. He will immediately be given opportunity to rest, allowed to take a hot shower, and be fed a good meal. But that man will never be a SEAL Ring the bell, and you’ll never be forced to waken at five in the morning. Ring the bell, and you’ll never be forced to endure the cold swims. Ring the bell, and you’ll never have to make the long runs in the sand or push your body to do the unbelievably demanding physical training. Ring the bell, and you’ll be allowed to go home where you can enjoy the comforts of home. Ring the bell, and you’ll never change the world.

In a very real sense, the training is more similar than we might imagine in the Christian life. There are multitudes who are saved—their sins are forgiven and they will be part of the holy throng gathered around the Emerald Throne of God, but they aren’t making much of a difference here on earth. They are saved, but they are not changing much in our world. If you want to truly make your life count in the short days allotted, you will need to train for eternity. Everything in your body and in your mind will scream, “Just ring the bell.” Your spouse will plead, “Just ring the bell.” The world around you will marvel at what you are enduring, and while you struggle to excel, multiple voices shout out, “Just ring the bell!” But if you ring the bell, you’ll just be another of a million supposed overcomers who will never know what they can endure. Ring the bell, and you will surrender your opportunity to make an eternal difference.

THE STRUGGLE YOU FACE TODAY — Whenever I take my place behind the sacred desk, I am acutely aware that I am speaking to people who are engaged in a very real struggle. Seated before me, or listening via any of the various media by which the messages that are delivered from behind this desk goes forth, are people who are experiencing pain, people who face crushing disappointment, people who have grown unimaginably weary in the particular struggle they are compelled to face. These individuals often wonder whether God even knows how they struggle. At any given time, some will question whether God even cares that they don’t feel as if they are winning any of their battles. The Wise Man has perceptively described our situation when he writes,

“The heart knows its own bitterness,

and no stranger shares its joy.”

[PROVERBS 14:10]

No one can perfectly describe your personal trials—the disappointments you have faced and the struggles you have endured; and even should someone manage to approximate the struggles that you are facing, they can never fully understand your struggle. The weariness, the heartache of defeat, are yours alone. No one can actually know what you experience. Those who love you, and especially those with whom you share the Faith, will weep with you when you weep, but theirs will always be the weeping of sympathy and can never be the weeping that comes from empathy. Your struggles are yours; no one can understand how you feel or comprehend the sense of desperation you have known, no one can actually share the weight you bear, save for the Master.

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