Pastor’s Corner: “Keep Moving the Needle Forward”
Philippians 3:14 (NIV) – 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
There are times in our life when we get to the point that we say, “I can’t take it any more – I’ve had it – I quit!” Maybe you or someone you know is at this point. Perhaps they’ve been diagnosed with terminal cancer, or you just discovered your spouse is having an affair, or you’re going through a painful and bitter divorce. In times like these, our mind tells us things like, “You’ve got to trust God.” But deep down in our heart we’re saying, “Yeah, I’ve heard all that, but it’s not working for me.” When you are hurting—whether it is from the loss of a loved one or when you become a victim of pain and sorrow or are burdened by an illness—you feel alone and estranged from God. It is then that satan whispers, “Aha, this is how much good believing in God has done for you!” And we allow that faint voice of doubt to creep in. We might be “going through the motions” and appear okay to everyone else, but on the inside we’re giving up and drifting further away from God. Sound familiar?
What is the answer? You aren’t going to like this, but I’ve got to say it. The answer is refusing to believe what you know is untrue—regardless of how you feel, what your emotions or your body tell you—and hold on to the confidence that you have….that God is still in control and to keep moving the needle of your faith forward.
In the early church, Christians were suffering horrible persecution. At some point, they, too, wanted to give up and stop trusting God. So the Spirit of God spoke to the writer of Hebrews to encourage them and give them perspective in the midst of their suffering. We can apply the same truth to our lives today, no matter what we’re going through.
Here’s what he told them: Hebrews 10:32 (NLT) – 32 Think back on those early days when you first learned about Christ. Remember how you remained faithful even though it meant terrible suffering. (v. 35-36) – So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! 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.”
Most people miss the greatest thing in the entire world because they quit inwardly. They don’t realize that God has a great plan and a great reward for them in this life and the one in the future. That’s why we have to keep pressing ahead, no matter what.
We can have “patient endurance” even when going through the most difficult season in our lives. But to do this, we must get a Biblical understanding of adversity. Part of our vulnerability and tendency to give up and quit when things get tough is that we have a base line misunderstanding about adversity.
Here are three things the Word of God says about adversity:
First, people who are righteous and walking closely with the Lord still experience adversity in this world. No one is exempt. But the good news is the Lord promises to deliver us as His children out of and through our afflictions when we believe and trust in Him. Psalm 34:19 (NIV) – 19 The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all;
Second, God wants to transform your life through adversity. Why? It produces character. There will always be difficult things that we must overcome in every season, and God wants to use every single one of them to develop your character. The Apostle Paul, a man who knew suffering, wrote about this in his letter to the Christians in Rome. Romans 5:3-5 (NIV) – 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
When we keep pressing the needle of our faith forward, that’s when the love of God keeps getting poured into our hearts. People who have suffered much and didn’t give up, either outwardly or inwardly, have certain richness and strength about them. As we endure, God changes us. We become more loving, kind, patient — more like Christ. And that should give us hope. We don’t have to try hard to be Christians! Our transformation is the work of the Holy Spirit, who molds and shapes us through our trials.
Third, we can take heart and remember that our sufferings and trials are temporary.1 Peter 5:10 (NLT) – 10 In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. The things that are seen are temporary. And at some point we need to believe that now isn’t all there is and there’s a far bigger, eternal picture. God wants us to live in the now, in light of the forever.
Trusting God just for today is what He asks. And when we get to the dawn of a new day, God’s going to be there to meet us and to lead us through the mine fields that obscure His presence and sometimes make us forget He’s still in charge. It’s the only way.
READ: Psalm 46:1-11
In His Grace,