Have you ever experienced a time in your life when you thought to yourself, “If I can just get through this, I’ll be okay”? I have. More than once. Sometimes the trials were work-related. I took on a project that was too much to handle. Or I was thrown into a situation that I felt was beyond my ability. (My first six weeks of motherhood comes to mind!) Other times my trials were thrust upon me by circumstances beyond my control. Hurt feelings, sickness, the loss of someone close… Have I mentioned that life can be hard?
I hear Christians talk all the time about life’s worries and struggles. I hear things like:
“Look to God, and He will carry you through.”
“Life is short compared to eternity. Focus on your hope of heaven.”
“Yes, this life is hard, but one day there will be no more tears or pain.”
Don’t get me wrong. Every single one of these statements is 100% true. And those who say these things have the best of intentions – to encourage their brothers and sisters in the faith. But the more I hear people talk about “surviving” this life, the more I wonder if that’s what we were meant to do as followers of Christ.
Jesus didn’t call the disciples to survive; rather He called them to action. They weren’t supposed to just sit back and wait for His return; they were given a crucial purpose – one they didn’t take lightly.
I don’t want to be a survivor. I want to thrive!
Think of all that our heavenly Father has equipped us with: His Holy Spirit, every spiritual blessing, the armor of God, His grace and peace… I could seriously go on and on.
Why would God equip have equipped me with so much if I was just supposed to sit back and survive this life?
We were called to thrive, to share the message of hope to the world, to live in peace and joy, to fight spiritual battles (and win), and to advance the Kingdom of God. We can’t effectively do any of this if we’re constantly living in survival mode.
But here’s the sober truth – life is hard. There are days when I just want to stay in my pj’s and avoid the world at all cost. Sometimes the stress and pain of life becomes too much for me to bear and I long to close myself off. But this is not how the Christian life was meant to be lived…
The early church endured things that were honestly unspeakable. They were heavily persecuted, martyred in the worst ways possible, lost loved ones left and right, were denied their rights to food and shelter… all for the name of Christ. And this persecution came not only from the government (Rome) but also from the unbelieving Jewish people who were more than offended that Gentiles were running around claiming to be saved by God through their promised Messiah.
Life was messy for the early church, yet Paul encouraged them to persevere. But here’s the thing about perseverance – it has nothing to do with survival. Paul wasn’t calling them to survive the persecution. He was telling them to push through it.
Perseverance is described as “steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.”
Am I pushing through life’s struggles? Am I remaining steadfast to the call God has placed on my life in spite of difficulty or delay?
This is what it means to thrive.