Updated: Sep 4, 2018
A few years back I was at a conference where Robert Morris of Gateway church was asked the question, "What one thing as a pastor did you most underestimate?" His response was immediate: The intensity of the spiritual warfare."
Without question that is true. Sometimes when I look back over the past 30 years and all of the battles, many wins but likewise many catastrophic losses that were devastating personally, I have to stop my brain as it goes on tilt and I actually become nauseous physically. As the apostle Paul said in Ephesians chapter 6, we are not wrestling against flesh and blood but against evil spirits, principalities and powers that have no regard to who or what they attack, preying on any weakness whatsoever, whether a lack of prayer cover, weaknesses in a marriage, miscommunication among workers… The list is endless. The number of times over the 30 years that I wanted to just quit and throw in the towel have been thousands upon thousands of times, but one passage has help me to persevere and continue forward serving the Lord. It's found in 2 Corinthians 4, the apostle Paul speaking:
"We are hard pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair......We get knocked down, but are not destroyed.....But we continue to minister because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, “I believed in God, so I spoke.” We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you.
That is why we never lose heart..... For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever."
The only way to move forward and persevere in the will of God is to see the bigger picture, that eternity awaits and that suffering is producing an inward glory that will far outweigh our deepest and darkest trials. We are becoming more and more like our Savior, who for the joy set before him endured the agony of the cross. We can't quit. We must take the next step forward and trust God's grace to strengthen us and renew us continually until we finally one day cross the finish line and hear, "Well done My good and faithful servant."
May your heart be encouraged,