“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4
“You can do anything for 90 seconds.” My Pure Barre instructor’s motivational words challenge my mind and body to push through the pain especially when I transition to a plank with one hand balancing on a small ball while the other arm maintains the traditional plank position. During the last 20 seconds, I am tempted to drop down on my knees to stop the discomfort and I can justify it by telling myself, “Well, you held the position for 60 seconds and that is good enough.” Instead, focusing on her words of encouragement strengthens me to persevere to the end. Though 90 seconds might seem insignificant, it reminds me that faithfulness in the little things matter. If I can persevere through 90 seconds, then I can persevere through far greater challenges. Success in little things breeds the kind of resolve and character to persevere through difficulties.
With two-thirds of a writing project under my belt, I need the perseverance to finish strong. While self-determination and positive self-talk can be helpful, they are insufficient because we can’t will ourselves to succeed. When obstacles arise and especially in the home stretch, here are a few things that help me persevere.
First, I count my blessings. God’s presence going before and behind me (Isaiah 52:12) is a huge blessing as it relieves the pressure to rely on my own strength and instead increases my trust barometer and enlivens my spirit to look for divine connections, inspiration, and open doors. When obstacles arises such as a flashing background computer screen lasting about 6 weeks and even stumping apple technical support and then pulling something in my shoulder, I was not surprised because the enemy likes to get us down. He would like nothing more than preventing a Bible study from reaching people’s hands.
The flashing screen and the pain in my left shoulder made it really hard to write as you can imagine. Frustration welled up often because time spent on these things took away from making progress on my study. According to Colossians 1:11, God strengthens us with power so that we will have great endurance and patience. I needed God’s help to persevere through these difficulties and the patience to trust Him. I was so thankful that the physical therapist said whatever I pulled should resolve after several weeks of physical therapy.
Secondly, I focus on the resources God gives me and not my limitations. During the many hours I spent with a senior apple technical advisor, God used this time to talk about spiritual things, much to my surprise. After I told him what I was working on, he shared that he was reading through the Bible for the first time, so while information was extracted from my computer, he would ask me questions about the Bible. I found myself less frustrated and praying for insight from the Lord as we discussed the Bible. Focusing on my limitations, inability to fix the computer and less writing accomplished would only create more anxiety and might have caused me to miss the blessing of God’s presence and an opportunity to talk about how the Bible applies to our lives. God was using my computer issue for good in the advisor’s life and encouraging me because only God could have assigned my case to him out of all the thousands who work for Apple.
How has God used your frustrating situation to encourage someone else?
How can you focus more on the resources that you have in Christ and less on your limitations or difficult circumstances?
~Mary Carmen Englert
Sacred Story is honored to have Mary Carmen Englert as a monthly contributor.