Perseverance Under Pressure
by Erin Bruzda
“…We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself.” (2 Corinthians 1:8, NIV)
For four long months, I endured a debilitating health issue that kept me isolated and alone in my battle against it. I began to get my days and nights mixed up because each task and moment seemed to run together. Eventually, I lost the energy to go even one more day and lost hope that it would or could change. At that point, I understood at a deeper level than ever before what Paul meant when he said, “we despaired even of life.” (2 Cor. 1:8 NKJV).
Family, friends, church members, co-workers and many I don’t know prayed on my behalf. Then at the bottom of my self, I felt those prayers flood my heart with hope and light, drawing me back to truths in God’s Word. The strength to fight against the enemy’s lies and distortions grew in me. I was able to go one more day, then another and a few more until God led me to my healing.
Recently, InterAct missionary, Roy Thiessen wrote about his own struggles with the temptation to say, “I quit!” when God wants us to persevere. Roy asked his readers, “Have you ever had a series of events or circumstances that make you want to “throw in the towel?”
Whether it’s personal life challenges or frustrations in ministry, there are times where God calls us, as He did the Apostle Paul, to persevere under pressure. Here are a few points Roy and others have found helpful to remember in these times:
- Remember who God is. In difficult times it seems easier to be tempted to believe lies about God, such as, “He doesn’t care,” or “He doesn’t see me,” and other beliefs that negate the goodness of God and His immense love for His children. Look into scripture for truths of God’s character. He is full of grace and truth (John 1:14). He will listen to our pleas for mercy (Psalm 30:8). Nothing can separate the believer from His love (Romans 8:38-39). He is the Father who celebrates you, runs to you, (Luke 15).
- Remember who you are in and to Christ Jesus. You are justified, reconciled, regenerated and redeemed. You are forgiven, dearly loved and adopted into the family of God. You are a valuable friend of Christ Jesus and co-heir with Him (Romans 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, Eph 1-2). You can confidently and boldly enter the Lord’s presence and bring your requests to Him (Heb 10:19).
- Remember, the battle is spiritual. (Ephesians 6: 10-12) Our fight is not against flesh and blood. It is in the realm of the spirit. Jesus has already won it by His death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead. You are victorious through His Spirit’s presence in your life (1Corinthinans 15:57; 2 Corinthians 10:4-5; 2 Thessalonians 3:3).
- Remember that the enemy wants us to quit. He wants us to stop believing God, quit trusting His Word, and refrain from seeking Him in prayer. When we get discouraged, we are not listening to what God says, but instead, we believe the lies of the devil (John 8:44; Romans 8:37-39; 1Peter 5: 8-9).
- Remember, God works for our good and His Glory (Romans 8: 28-39; 1 Corinthians 10:13). You may not see God working right now; it does not mean He isn’t. Jesus said, “My Father is always at His work….” (John 5:17, NIV).
- Remember, God does have a purpose and a plan (Exodus 9:16; Jeremiah 29:11; Philippians 2:12-13). We may not understand or know all the “ins and outs,” but we can trust God, and he is trustworthy and steadfast in love (Psalm 136).
- Remember, there will be something to learn. Humbly express your dependence on God and ask Him how He would like you to respond to the situation. Ask God to reveal to you what He wants you to learn in this time of difficulty. God never wastes our pain or heartache. (Matthew 11:29-30; John 14:26; Psalm 86:11; Psalm 32:8).
- Remember to move forward. In times like this, we can get stuck and wallow in “Woe is me.” God does not love us any less than He did 2000 years ago as Jesus hung there because of our sins. Lament well, seek God, confess sin He reveals, enjoy forgiveness in Christ and seek help from the body of Christ (Psalm 25; 2 Corinthians 1:3-11).
“Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him, we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us,” (2 Corinthians 1:9-10)