In our journey as Christians, it is vital that we fill our hearts daily with the encouragement of God's Word. And though God has given us, in His Word, everything we need to overcome all discouragements, weaknesses, sin, obstacles and Satan's attacks along the way, we ourselves must take the responsibility to apply them.
Like the car we drive, we must keep filling our tank by following each instruction; otherwise, we will not be able to survive emotionally and spiritually in the long run. Let’s look at two of these important instructions.
The Will of God
Give thanks in all circumstances.
First Thessalonians 5:18 contains one of the most powerful instructions for staying alive in our spiritual journey amidst adverse circumstances:
“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
A Christian counselor helped his clients apply this Scripture to their difficult situations. And in each case, the positive changes were amazing. It’s worth following his application:
Take a 3 x 5 card and write down 10 things you are grateful for in your difficulties—perhaps in your workplace where your boss treats you unfairly; your service in a ministry or church where you are not given the important position you wanted; your marriage partner who has deeply hurt or disappointed you; the son or daughter who gives you so much trouble.
Even if you find it difficult, try hard. For example: I am grateful that I have a job; I am grateful that I have the privilege to serve the Lord in at least a small fashion and help win souls for His kingdom; I am grateful that my spouse didn’t walk away from our marriage; I am grateful that my son is not on drugs.
Put this card somewhere visible—in your Bible or your shirt pocket, on the dashboard of your car or near your computer screen.
Thank God twice daily for each of these 10 things, as you begin your day and before you go to bed. Say out loud: “Lord, I thank you for . . .”
Every time you think of something critical, replace it with a thanksgiving item from the list. Make sure that you don’t mention any of the negative things you are struggling with. Our mind automatically dwells on negative things, blows small problems out of proportion and finds something critical in even the good that is happening. That’s why we need to have our list ready, so we can immediately replace each discouraging thought with a thankful one.
Continue to practice your giving of thanks for 21 days until it becomes a habit. You will find that incredible changes will take place in your heart and your life as a result.
Developing Sufficient Stamina
Run the race with endurance. The writer of Hebrews said,
“Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).
He was very much aware that we are enlisted in a marathon race that can only be won if we have sufficient stamina to last the entire long distance.
As Westerners, we suffer from lack of endurance. Our society is very fluid—people move frequently and surveys show that 50 percent of engaged couples think at least once that if their marriage doesn’t work out, they will have a chance on a second one.
It is much easier for us to change, walk away, close our hearts, become bitter or give up instead of enduring for the long haul. It is an uncommon thing to find—in our society and in the Church—the “stickability,” permanency, endurance and commitment in the face of difficulty that the Bible talks about when it comes to following Jesus.
Especially if you are a young person, I encourage you to embrace the word “endurance.” Paul wrote to his young disciple Timothy, “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:3). In other words, “Although enduring hardship is difficult, hold onto it, because through this you will grow and improve on the inside.”
The best years of my life in terms of developing as a leader, and the most valuable lessons I learned, happened when I worked with a mission organization in northern India. One of my leaders was next to impossible to deal with. No matter what I did, he found fault with it. It was not easy at all to endure. I felt like I died a thousand deaths. But somehow my upbringing and my instruction about discipleship called for staying on and not giving up.
Imagine the moment when you will cross the finish line.
I encourage you to think often about how it’s all going to end in 15, 20 or 50 years from now, when your race is over. You should be able to say, “I ran the race well.”
Is it possible? Yes, it is! We have plenty of examples of those who endured until the end.
Whatever discouragements and difficulties we face right now are not the end of the world. They are just temporary afflictions. And God already has given us His grace to win the victory. Don’t stop; keep running the race!
Dr. K.P. Yohannan
Founder & Director of Gospel for Asia
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About 5 Minutes with K.P.
5 minutes with K.P. is a short devotional that first appeared in our ministry magazine, GFA World and is written by Gospel for Asia's Founder and Director, Dr. K.P. Yohannan.