If you’re going through a difficult season in your life at the moment, I want to remind you of something very important: “Tough times DON’T last but tough people DO.” (quote by Robert Schuller).
The thing about challenging seasons is that they do eventually come to an end. But when you’re going through one of them, it’s so easy to lose perspective and believe that this is your lot for the rest of your life. So during those times, we can panic and assume that the answer is to run away. But this is not the answer because wherever you might end up, you still carry your issues with you!
In the Old Testament, Jonah discovered that when he tried to run away from God, the devil provided the transport. He still does. Jonah’s destination though….well, it really wasn’t good. You ought to read his Old Testament book to find out why!
The point is that in the tough times, you don’t need to always have all the answers about why things are tough. There’s no point in being too self-analytical either (that will come). Resist the temptation to blame too. This is a trap which so many people fall into. No, in tough times, all you need to do is hold your nerve and keep showing up. This is the bravest thing you can possibly do. Real courage is a lot less about performing some great heroic act and a lot more about quietly getting on with it.
If you’re going to have the worst day of your life, have it in church. If you’re going through a season of hardship and heartache, surround yourself with a church community that’s full of faith and prayer. It might feel a little scary to do it but your perceived vulnerability is absolutely nothing compared to the REAL danger of isolation. The latter is a killer of dreams and a destroyer of destiny.
I’ve been in church leadership for over 20 years. During that time, I’ve experienced seasons of incredible blessing and success. I’ve also gone through seasons of pain and heartache. Yes, leaders aren’t superhuman. They experience tough seasons too. That’s why it’s always very wise to pray for your pastors.
I remember a few years ago, I went through a particularly challenging season. Finances were stretched and we were feeling the pressure. Church was in it’s formative stage. We were working hard to build healthy culture into the life of the community. We loved and cared for the people, often getting home in the early hours. But I was tired. I was also on the receiving end of some pretty mean spirited & nasty criticism to which I maintained a silence and did not react. It was not a pleasant season and it took it’s toll on me. One day, I sat in a coffee shop just to take a bit of time out and rest my weary mind. As I sat there, I felt the Holy Spirit gently whisper into my heart over and over again the words, ‘ Hold your nerve! Keep showing up! Hold your nerve! Keep showing up!’. I felt deeply encouraged and that’s exactly what I did. The tough season passed and not long after, we transitioned into an incredible new season in the life of the church.
Now listen. That challenging season you are going through – it will either make you or break you. It will either strengthen your faith or suffocate it. It will either be a stepping stone on the way to your destiny or a grave stone where your dreams die. The choice is yours. I encourage you to stick with it. Hold your nerve. Keep showing up. Somebody needs you to keep running your race. A generation will one day be grateful for your faith & endurance. It’s totally worth it.