I wait for you, often impatiently. Passionate and shortsighted is my soul, Resistant to the truth of your control. My faith wars with my fears consistently. I pray for grace to give up while I grip More tightly to what you require of me, Thinking of faith as eyes widen to see Any way out. A trembling heart and lip Often appear instead of steadfastness, Longing for Egypt in the Promised Land, Reaching for idols as you hold my hand. Spirit, sustain me. Help me see past this. Teach me to rest in your ability And wait in rev’rence and humility.
You wake up feeling refreshed, motivated to get outside in the cool morning air and run. As you work up a sweat, you feel the chill of the breeze on your brow, cooling you as you make progress down the road. The stillness of the morning, dimly lit but ever brightening, holds a kind of peace. Exercise is a joy, a blessing, on days like this.
Some days, however, jogging is more difficult.
You know you need to exercise, but you already feel tired, sluggish at the thought of the heat and humidity. You lower your goals as you run because you know you don’t have the energy to do all you’d intended to do. You struggle to catch your breath, struggle to keep the pace, struggle to find the motivation to keep running. Exercise doesn’t feel like a joy on days like this.
As much as I’d like every run to resemble the first one, the reality is that the second type of run seems to occur more frequently. But both types of runs must be completed for the exercise to produce results. If I only ran when running was easy, I’d rarely run, and I’d see very little benefit from it.
I think the same is true of faithfulness in the Christian life. Sometimes faithfulness seems almost easy. Everyone around you agrees, all obstacles seem manageable (if any obstacles appear at all), and your walk with the Lord fills you with motivation and excitement for the work before you. Other times, however, faithfulness feels much more difficult. Disagreement and division seem to persist around you, obstacles seem unassailable, and your spiritual life feels dry and cold.
As with jogging, so with faithfulness. Faithfulness isn’t only for good days or for easy roads. Faithfulness is for the hard days as well, for the difficult seasons of life, for the “trials of various kinds” James talks about (James 1:2-4). Though we can, and should, count the testing of our faith as joy, the path of faithfulness will not always be pleasant or painless. But the Lord produces fruit in the steadfastness and faithfulness of his people.
So go for that run, even if it’s more difficult today, even if you don’t feel motivated, even if you don’t beat your personal record. And pursue faithfulness, even if it’s more difficult, even if you don’t feel motivated, even if you don’t accomplish all you hoped you would. Let us be found faithful, and let us trust the Lord to produce fruit through our faithfulness.
All things work for the good, you say.
I do not doubt the truth.
But shall I see the good one day,
Ever detect your better way
When circumstances ever lay
Before my doubtful heart a “may”
Which shakes the faith of youth
With fears I shudder to convey?
My mind is prone to wonder, though
I know you to be wise.
When progress on the road is slow,
When seasons threaten me with snow
Or desert heat, when all is woe –
God, how much further must I go?
My limits are my eyes.
I cannot see how I must grow.
Yet none can know your mind. You see
Past ev’ry fear I face.
So when I lose perspective, be
The peace amidst confusion, he
Whose presence makes the raging sea
A place of rest: tranquility
Of soul because of grace,
Enduring to eternity.
The rain one day will end.
The broken skies will mend.
Hope then in he who maketh all things new.
For though your heart may rend,
His presence doth transcend
All storms of life, and he will see you through.
O Father, I shudder with ev’ry affliction.
The day seems far dimmer than ever before.
Man is corrupted by sin’s contradiction.
The depths of depravity darken my door.
I know of no road to escape this great testing.
The cries and the chaos do threaten demise.
Sickness and sorrow are my heart arresting,
But within this furnace is found a great prize.
The treasures of tragedy truly perplex me:
I sought not a one, yet I value them all.
Verily does this perplexity vex me,
But ne’er would I waste e’en a drop of this gall.
I wish to be rid of this cup so revolting.
God, with ev’ry draught, I am drinking in death.
Yet you have suffered a far worse assaulting,
And yet you are with me with every breath.
You sanctify me through the seasons of suff’ring.
When all else around me gives way, you remain.
God, ‘gainst the enemy, you are my buff’ring,
And you will redeem ev’ry moment of pain.
O Father, let me never be
A hindrance to your plan for me,
But grant me, Lord, the eyes to see
The roads you’d have me travel.
And strengthen me to follow thee
By sun or star, by land or sea
Until the day I fin’lly flee
This world of grit and gravel.