I’m from State College, Pennsylvania home to the Penn State Nittany Lions. My parents met at Penn State and because they loved their community, they settled in, had four kids and never left. Growing up there, a love for college football was a given and that love has stuck with me ever since.
If you could care less about football, hang in there. I have a point. It’s an illustration that has helped me to understand what God is up to, in my life anyway. For those of you in a season that requires perseverance, it may be a word for you too.
There is an important rule in football known as Forward Progress. The ball carrier runs towards the opposing team. He plows forward, through a line of defenders using all the strength he can muster. Typically he’s met with hard hitting resistance. The defenders try to strip the ball and push the ball carrier back. The tussle often continues well after the whistle blows. It looks painful and discouraging— so much exertion with little to show for it. But because of the forward progress rule, the ball carrier is rewarded for his total forward progress regardless of the distance he may be pushed back.
For me, in my role as not only Ian’s mother but also his guardian, it has felt like that kind of short yardage discouraging football play over and over and over again. 3 steps forward, 2 steps back. Somedays it can feel as if we’ve lost ground with one step forward and 3 steps back.
But God has encouraged me with the forward progress rule. None of the grinding effort has been wasted. None of the frustrating discouragement has been fruitless. There is purpose to perseverance. “Look up child”, He tells me, together we have made significant progress. Even though it doesn’t look or feel that way, He wants me to know it to be true.
After all, my faith is precious to Him, more precious than mere gold.
1 Peter 1:7 These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.
What is that trial in your life, that stressor you want fixed? — a health problem, a circumstance, a relationship, a prodigal? Perhaps you faithfully pray and pray and pray for God to just do it already— fix it, change it, cure it, remove it. I get it. It’s human nature to prefer the hail Mary pass to be caught in the end zone. Game over.
But that usually doesn’t work. What if instead, we accept the trial and trust Him to get us through it. While leaning on Him, we face the stressor head on and grind it out on the field, little by little, knowing it was the Lord who called the play.
For me, this season of perseverance is not easy or comfortable, but the Lord has been near. He has reassured me that I’m where I’m supposed to be. It takes discipline to wait, to resist running ahead to do something flashy, or expedient without Him. Instead, I’m on high alert intently listening for His next creative play.
The Irony of Endurance
The great irony of endurance is this. Instead of the storm destroying us, when we endure, it becomes the means the Lord uses to deliver us.
Hebrews 10:36 Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.
Here’s the thing… In this world you WILL have trouble. (John 16:33)
So in a sense, trouble is simply an unwelcome and uninvited friend in the hands of an all-knowing, all-loving and all powerful God. When we allow Him, He uses adversity to ….
- ween us from self dependence and any notion that we’re in control
- draw us closer to Him
- redirect us for our greatest good and His greatest glory.
When I find myself in a place where “I can’t”, I must remember, He never said I could. Not only that, but He can, and He’s always said He would.
Dear Sovereign Father, What a relief it is to know that You’ve Got THIS. Forgive me for losing sight of Your end game. Especially during seasons that require perseverance, thank you for Your encouragement. Thank you that all of our grinding effort is not in vane. Remind me that this sometimes painful process leads me to a greater hope and a deeper faith. Help me to keep on keeping on, trusting You to use it all for my good and Your glory. Amen.
Carol Waye says
I needed this message today. We are two days away from moving to Colorado to be nearer to our kids. Although packing and last minute logistics are troublesome at times, my main concern is my brother who lives in the community that we are leaving. He has Parkinson’s with mild dementia. He has a wife who cares for him however she is still in denial of his many needs. She has not gotten outside help although they can easily afford it. I’ve been his advocate for the last few years but have no legal say in his care. I am returning in a few months to help them, once we unpack and get settled. I trust in God’s plan and hope that this trial will bring us all closer to Him.
Oh Carol… that is a lot. You probably know how much I hate Parkinsons. The Lord is doing something big in you even if your work feels mundane. I will pray for your sister in law too and her awakening. May the Lord be your strength.
Deanna F says
Thank you for this message. A great analogy and helpful to think about perseverance and it’s challenges in this way. I really appreciate your blog. You are a blessing to me!
How nice to hear from you friend! So pleased you find benefit. Miss you.
As usual a spiritual touchdown.
Ha HA! Nice pun. Thanks Gerrie.
Karen Chalmers says
Well said Gerrie!
Thanks for chiming in Karen. And thanks for a wonderful catch up this week.
Anne kole says
I love what you said about God never saying we could but that he can! Perseverance is a grind, day in and out. But Jesus invites us to come to him when things get heavy. He certainly knows about perseverance from his life on earth! We must trust him and just do the next thing he has for us. I try not to look too far ahead except for the hope of eternal glory he promises.
You are one of the most faithful people I know, Debbie. You encourage me more than you know! Just do the next thing and persevere!
How kind of you Anne. Yes… that is wise thought. The next right thing. So pleased to hear how the Lords encouragement to me, encourages you.
I’m grateful for and needed this today! My husbands parents are moving into assisted living soon and I’m having a hard time accepting that this is where they need to be, knowing that someday, we’ll follow suit. Letting God handle this matter is a much better way! You’ve encouraged me to look to Him and not to myself. Thank you!
Thank you for adding your voice. Aging parents is tough. I remember packing up my mother’s beloved teacup collection with her. It was difficult for sure. But since then she has made about 4 more moves. (Each time increasing her needed care and making her world a bit smaller). But she’ll tell you now that she’s made her last move on this side of heaven, she is ready for the room He has prepared for her. It really is a beautiful thing to watch her faithful perspective.
Cat McKenzie says
Not a Football Fan but do appreciate you comparison. I face that grinding day to day existence with a lot of Chronic issues on a very personal basis. In my trust with the Lord, I am ,as you say, just where He wants me to be , I push on, or at least try to as the days wear on. When I lift my face and become aware of many of my close Friends in worse states than myself, I am thankful for the path I walk, and thankful I have a loving God at my back . Thanks for the time to reflect on this from another angle. God Bless !
So sorry. Chronic pain is awful. Praying that you sense His close-ness like never before.
Helen-Marie Pearce Brigham says
Debbie, your message and encouragement arrived at just the right time. I know what I need to do but sometimes lack the perseverance. Thank you friend. Helen Marie
Thank you Helen Marie. May it give you the kick in the pants to do or not do as He leads.
thank you so much for these words. The season I find myself in is difficult…although to be honest, I may make it more difficult that it has to be. Through it all, I know, God is in control and is working for my good. Even if that is very rough sandpaper on my rough edges!
Renata, I will pray for you dear sister. Hang in there. Keep looking up.
Glenda Demmie says
Thank you for the encouraging message on perseverance. The football illustration was so applicable even though your team didn’t win this weekend. God was able to use it to remind you and us of the importance of faithful perseverance in all seasons of our lives. I especially appreciate your prayer and will be praying it many times this week. Yea! It scored a Touchdown!
THanks for your comment Glenda. I do need to remember His result is often different than mine.
Definitely a football fan really appreciated ur message today thank u
I even prefer watching those flashy high yardage pass plays rather than the grinding plays I discuss. It sure is a treat though to have college football back with full stadiums of fans.
Berta Pitzer says
I love the football references and how well you persevere through your days. I think of you often as I am pushing through some of my own trials. I look forward to your blog. God’s keeps reminding me that HE’s in charge and that His love is the key to everything. God bless you friend.
Amen. Much love to you and your family.
Emmy Browning says
I love your blog. Don’t know how you persevere as you do. Admire so much your faith and strength. Love your football comparison.
Im grateful for my readers including you. I am so encouraged. Thx emmy.
” I must remember, he never said I could.” Debbie, this is so profound and yet so hard. Like you, I am a recovering control freak and it is so hard for me to let go. Praise the Lord my trust has never faltered but my attempt to fix things remains incredibly strong. I love the scripture you quote, that patient endurance is what I need now. But I grumble… patience has never, ever been a quality I have but I rest in assurance that God made me who I am and how I am for a reason. Your messages always, always touch me in some way though I don’t often take the time to comment. Thank you so much Debbie for your perseverance in doing your best to encourage others while trying to take care of so many things going on in your life. God bless you sweetheart
Recovering control freaks UNITE. Terri, one scripture I didn’t quote but one of my favorites. Phil 1:6… HE WILL finish what He started. Blessings to you my fellow sojourner.
Thanks for this scriptural reminder Debbie
Rhonda Hellwig says
Thanks for your encouraging words & perspective. I’m facing a double mastectomy next week & needed the reminder that He can do this & I can’t.
Oh Rhonda, I am just now seeing this. I will pray for your upcoming surgery. And that you will trust Him through it. He can indeed!
Rhonda… better late than never… I am praying now for your scary surgery and a successful outcome. Debbie