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“You’ve almost got it, Lily!” I cheered, putting on my best coaching face. “All you need to do is keep those feet together and remember to kick from the hips, OK?”
The 9-year-old watched as I demonstrated the butterfly kick one more time.
“Yeah! Got it, coach!” she shouted and smiled.
One, two, three deep breaths she took before pushing off the wall. But her enthusiasm and focus weren’t enough to correct her stroke. She was still kicking with her feet apart, and she knew it.
“Coach, I don’t think I’m cut out to swim butterfly. I’m just not any good at it, and it’s really, really hard,” she said after touching the wall.
“Oh, Lily, that’s not true. Your stroke is looking so much better than when you first joined the team,” I reassured her. “I know you’re going to be a great butterflyer someday. It’s just going to take a little bit of time, patience and perseverance,” I reassured her.
But my pep talk only made her brow furrow further.
Her frustration reminded me of the struggles I faced when I first learned how to swim. Let’s just say if you watched my swim lesson tapes, you’d never believe I was a record-setting sprinter in high school. As a matter of fact, I vividly remember my mom asking me if I was sure I wanted to join the swim team when I brought home the flyer in sixth grade.
I’m not a swimmer anymore, but if I’m honest, sometimes my disease makes me feel like I’m not cut out to be or do much of anything.
It’s hard to persevere when the task before us feels too great to overcome.
Maybe you’re in (or have been in) a situation where you want to throw in the towel. You’ve tried everything and you still haven’t been able to conquer the mountain that’s in front of you.
When we reach a crossroads in trials of endurance, we have a decision to make. Do we stay the course or do we let things go? Do we stand and fight or do we raise our white flag in surrender?
In these moments, our first step is to pray — to take our requests, thoughts and fears before God and ask Him to help us make sense of our situation. We can run to Him and know that we are heard and that He will speak to us, because, as Scripture tells us in Luke 11:9, when we faithfully ask for something in prayer, God promises He will answer. The response might not come overnight or be as clear as we want it to be, but I believe that the Holy Spirit does speak to us in a matter of time.
I don’t know what your situation is. Maybe you’re trying to be the light in a family of unbelievers. Maybe you’re working tirelessly to get that job you’ve always wanted. Maybe you’re longing to catch the attention of the cute guy at work or school. But whatever hard thing you’re facing, this I know for sure:
If God has called you to it, He will help get you through it.
There’s a scene in Luke 22:66-71 that I turn to whenever perseverance seems impossible. Before Jesus appears before the high Roman council, where He would be sentenced to death, He prays on the Mount of Olives. The Son of God knows what’s coming. He knows the task before Him is too great to bear or overcome on His own. He knows He needs His Father’s help to carry on. But He also pleads for the suffering to be taken away:
“Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Then an angel from haven appeared and strengthened him” (Luke 22:42-43).
Oh, how beautiful these verses are to me. Here we see Jesus — honest, pure, loving, wonderful and perfect Jesus — ask God to help Him persevere and follow through on the seemingly impossible task of dying on the cross for our sins. And you know what God does? He sends help! He gives Jesus the strength He needs to not only make it through the night, but also to see the task through.
That’s where the story picks up again in verse 66, where Jesus is brought before the high council.
“At daybreak all the elders of the people assembled, including the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. Jesus was led before this high council … they all shouted, “So, are you claiming to be the Son of God?” And he replied, “You say that I am” (66, 70).
How do we persevere like Jesus? We allow God to be our strength and to do the impossible in and through us.
What this passage of Scripture teaches me is that it’s not the actual task or mountain that makes it hard to persevere in life. Instead, the problem lies within our attitude and approach.
Remember, we have two choices when we come to a crossroads. We can choose to believe that we cannot overcome a situation. When that happens, we’ve already lost the battle because our mind has made the decision for us. Our attitude has already surrendered to defeat.
But there’s another choice we can make, and that choice is to persevere like Jesus, rely on God and trust that if He has called us to it, He will see us through it. He will be our strength.
Like I mentioned before, I don’t know what hard thing you are facing right now, but I do know that God can help us persevere through anything when we rely on Him to see us through. In Him, we overcome.
“In all things, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Romans 8:37.
Spend a few moments in prayer today asking God to help you make sense of whatever hard thing you are facing. Ask Him whether it’s something He wants you to persevere through, or something He wants you to hand over to Him. If he is asking you to persevere, ask Him to give you the strength you need to stay the course.
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Lauren Gaskill is an author, speaker and host of the Finding Joy podcast. She writes at LaurenGaskillinspires.com and is in the process of publishing her first non-fiction inspirational book. When she’s not writing, Lauren loves to cook, bake and go on hikes with her husband and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, who is affectionately named Reese after Lauren’s favorite candy — peanut butter cups.