3 biblical principles to help us keep going rather than give up
We have all experienced loss, in one way or another, in the past year: loss of loved ones, loss of health, loss of jobs, loss of housing, loss of fellowship, loss of motivation.
As hard as it is to keep moving forward, we must — we must choose action over apathy.
You may be thinking, “But what’s the point of choosing action?” or “I’m struggling. I’m just trying to live my life as best I can. I don't have energy for this.”
God’s call on our lives can seem inconvenient, at least in our human understanding. Please know I do not write this presumptuously; it is something I have learned from the dark valleys I have walked through in my life.
Consider the men and women of Scripture. All of them experienced tremendous, crushing loss. Yet they remained faithful through the pain. And they were just as human as you and me. They did not possess any spiritual superpowers: they made choices.
I think there are three biblical principles we can practice — choices we can make — to help us move from apathy to action.
We know faith in Jesus alone is what gives us eternal life, but our faith should motivate us toward good works. The same passage that begins with “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand,” ends with, “that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). Walking means doing.
We are to share the Good News, be faithful worshipers, and people of prayer, give to others and meditate on God’s word. This kind of commitment must be renewed daily. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). When we are obedient to God, he will use us in meaningful ways for his kingdom.
Just as it is much easier to turn a moving car than one that is parked, so it is when we are moving forward that God is able to direct us in the way that is best for us. In other words, we sometimes have to take a step out in faith before we see where we are going.
We often want to know, “Where am I supposed to go to follow God?” or “What is God’s will for my life?” I believe one answer to those very legitimate questions is found in Colossians 3:17: “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
Consider the life of Joseph: even when he was falsely accused and imprisoned, he remained faithful and distinguished himself among the other prisoners. And he was eventually rewarded for his diligence.
No doubt most of us would avoid adversity if given the choice. But difficult times have a way of reinforcing our need for God like no other time can.
When we are going through trials, we can remember Joseph’s example. Instead of focusing solely on our problems, we can turn to the Lord, who will give us the strength to endure and to glorify him.
Proverbs tells us, “for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again” (Proverbs 24:16). Our faith doesn’t exempt us from falling — it gives us the strength to get back up again.
Suffering is a required course in God’s curriculum. He had one Son who was without sin yet suffered. Why should we live life thinking we are exempt? It is impossible to pass through this life without enduring dark days, and those days look different for all of us.
The question is: How do we respond when life gets hard?
Some people turn from God when they experience trials, and some people turn to God. We see both responses in Scripture. When I read Hebrews 11, I see women and men who chose to look at their suffering as a time of learning or of testing and proving their faith. It is not that they wanted to suffer or chose to suffer — it is just that they chose to find their peace and contentment in God rather than in their circumstances.
As the author of Hebrews puts it:
“These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth...But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city” (Hebrews 11:13, 16).
Choosing action over apathy has little to do with our circumstances and much to do with our mindset. Again, Proverbs tells us, “Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor” (Proverbs 21:21). To “pursue” means to “chase down.” We cannot take a break from pursuing Jesus.
So let’s persevere in obedience, diligence, and resilience. Let’s choose action.
Dr. Jack Graham is the pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church, one of the largest and fastest-growing churches in America. He is the author of the acclaimed Unseen, and his PowerPoint Ministries broadcasts are available in 92 countries and are heard daily in more than 740 cities. Follow him @jackngraham.