I suppose it could be said of any of us that there are times when we are ready to just give up; just lie down in the dirt and give up. We feel like the harder we try, the greater our failure. We feel that we are powerless to affect change; that we are just “spinning our wheels”.
Sometimes it is specific catastrophic events that trigger this reaction in us, and sometimes it’s just the pressures and frustrations of the “daily grind” that discourage us, and sap our enthusiasm, and our motivation, and our joy. In these times, we can feel adrift, alone, persecuted and hopeless. Sometimes we get to feeling that our pain and suffering is unique, unlike anyone else’s experience in the world. After all, who could have troubles as serious as MY troubles? Who could possibly feel as low as I do? Let’s look at just a short list of people who, maybe surprisingly, feel just like us:
One of the greatest national leaders who ever walked the face of the earth; a man handpicked by God to lead His people. God was alive and active in Moses’ life, oftentimes miraculously so. Moses felt God’s presence in his life physically: he felt His power, His strength, His wisdom. But in Numbers 11:15 we read he felt frustrations and pressure just as we do. Moses said to God, “if thou deal thus with me, kill me, I pray thee!” In essence, Moses was saying, ”if you are gonna let life be like this for me, why not just end it all now!” Can we relate to feeling this way?
One of the greatest generals and military leaders who ever walked the face of the earth; a man handpicked by God to lead Israel into the Promised Land. A man who put his faith in God unquestioningly when he surveyed the land of Canaan and reported that God would give over the land to them regardless of the level of the inhabitant’s resistance. He was a confident man. But in Joshua 7:7, after a particular military defeat, he said, “would to God we had been content and dwelt on the other side of Jordan” That sounds like a guy who feels like giving up, doesn’t it?
One of the greatest prophets of the Old Testament, a man handpicked by God to deliver His messages to His people; a man willing to challenge the idolatry of his day. He was a man who felt God’s power and strength flow through Him physically when he called fire down from heaven and won a face off with the prophets of the false god Baal. But in I Kings 19:4 after it was all over, and Elijah learned that his defeat of the Baal priests had made him a man marked for death by the king and queen, he became depressed and discouraged, he asked God that he might die, and said, “it is enough now, O Lord, take away my life!”
In Acts 18 we find Paul in his 2nd missionary journey, he was arriving from Athens to Corinth, and was experiencing a low time in his life. In I Corinthians 2:3 Paul says of that time recorded in Acts: “I was with you in weakness and in fear, and in much trembling” Paul was fatigued, and discouraged. He had been beaten and jailed in Philippi, persecuted at Thessalonica and Berea and ridiculed in Athens. Paul felt alone, and he needed to support himself in Corinth by falling back into his trade of tent-making. Paul was stressed; he calls it being “pressed in the spirit” in Acts 18:5.
All these great pillars of faith, these famous servants of God, oftentimes felt just like we do: hopeless and helpless, ready to give up. But did any of these men give up? We read in scripture that all of them rallied, and rose to meet their challenges–the challenges God put before them. And we should realize that we are no different from them in that regard. We can also rise to the occasion, just as they did, with God’s help.
Sometimes all we need is a “second wind”. In this case, a spiritual “second wind”. God has promised to give us that “second wind” we need if we are faithful and courageous enough. He has promised us His presence (Hebrews 13:5), His strength (Philippians 4:13), and His pre-eminence (I Kings 8:23).
When life makes us feel like “throwing in the towel”, let’s remember these men, and let’s remember God’s message to each of them, which is the same message He has for us today: trying times are not the times to quit trying.
— Paul Seely, November 25, 2012