When I was a young college student, I was being mentored by a godly man, Don Anderson. We met a couple times a week and always ended with prayer. After one of our prayer times, Don paused, looked at me directly, and said, “Rick, I notice that you keep asking God for a lighter load. But God wants to give you a stronger back.” What a truth – one I desperately needed to learn.
One of the most tragic mistakes I see people in pain making is beginning to grow and then bailing out and going backward. They quit instead of finishing the course, not realizing that in doing so the pain will remain and the joy will not stay.
God promises that He will not allow us to go through more pain than we can handle. He will supply us with everything we need to go through that painful time successfully (1 Corinthians 10:13). He knows our limits. He even knows how much we can stretch in our faith to trust Him and grow in endurance – the ability to keep going even when faced with seemingly insurmountable odds. This is what James calls perseverance:
Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything – James 1:4 (NIV)
I used to be a runner of sorts. I ran five to ten miles most mornings. It took one painfully stretching day after another to build up my endurance, but in time running became a joy. I felt I could run forever. I was happy that I had persevered through the earlier pain and developed the endurance I had. Somehow the pain of the training paled in comparison to the joy of the run. And so it is with life as God designed it.
There is a deep-seated part of us that is convinced the key to fulfillment is avoiding discomfort. What a sorrow that must be to our Father. He wants us to stop living a false and dangerous illusion. He wants us to grow up and to mature. He wants us to be able to persevere in real life.
That is what James says: “Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete.” We all want to be more mature. We all want to be more completely who God designed us to be. We’re not sure we can make it. But we can. We have God’s word on it.
Do not cut the process short. Hang in there. Trust God to get you through – even if you can’t see the other side of your pain. Stop fighting and resisting your heavenly Father. The pain is not evil and bad. It just hurts. There are worse things than hurting, like not growing. Learn the wisdom of hanging in there and enduring the pain – the fulfillment and satisfaction in climbing above a mountain of difficulty.
(Portions taken from: Dr. Rick Taylor, When Life Is Changed Forever, Harvest House Publishers)