by Dr. Paul Chappell
Friday, January 1, 2010
"That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." -- Philippians 3:10-14
The key to being successful through difficulties is perseverance.
What would we do without modern conveniences? What we now enjoy instantly, many people had to wait patiently for. Consider the light bulb. Thomas Edison invented the light bulb and pioneered the field of electricity, yet the first light bulb was not perfect. It was so dim, a candle had to be used to identify the socket. People had to wait years for this convenience to be perfected. Also, the steamboat, a pioneer in modern travel, was not what we now know it as. The first steamboat journey from New York City to Albany, New York, lasted thirty-two hours (the journey was only 150 miles). Another modern convenience that started out slowly was the automobile. The first car only traveled two to four miles per hour and regularly broke down. In fact, many carriage drivers were known to yell at automobile owners and loudly suggest they stick with the horse and carriage method of transportation. Despite the slow start each of these inventions endured, they have become modern marvels that nearly no one in their time would have imagined.
Even through the slow starts, setbacks, and criticism, each of these inventors pressed on. They didn't quit when the going became rough. They didn't give up when their inventions were ridiculed. They kept pressing on. The secret to their success was perseverance in the face of difficulty.
Just as these inventors never gave up, so we as Christians should persevere in the face of difficulty. Today begins a new year. Old situations, failures, and mistakes are past. The Christian journey lays ahead of us like a new road, ready for us to travel it. This road isn't smooth or clear. Bumps in the road lay ahead, yet God desires that we would persevere and keep moving forward in spite of the setbacks.
Notice Paul's perseverance in his letter to the Philippians, "Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." Paul put the past behind him and looked forward to God's calling. He kept pressing on.
Yesterday you made a list of tasks you'd like to accomplish this year. Perhaps your list included some physical and spiritual goals. As it is with most goals, writing them down is the easy part. Now comes the time to put them to practice. The first few days may feel easy, yet be sure the road ahead contains bumps and setbacks.
Setbacks come to everyone, yet not everyone responds the same way. Some people give up and pull over to the side of the road. Other people stop in front of roadblocks and debate how to approach them, losing valuable time in the race. Some people are knocked down by the roadblocks, pick themselves back up, and continue running. Which one will you be?
How will you handle the setbacks along your journey this year? Will you give up on your goals and desires? God desires that you would follow Paul's example and "press toward the mark." Difficulties will come just as they did to Paul (who was stoned, beaten, left for dead, and put in prison), yet as you continue pressing forward, you'll be able to look back at the end of this year and say with a joyful heart, "I kept going despite the setbacks, and to God's glory, I remained faithful in 2010."