And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. Gal 6:9
A couple people have read that verse to me lately. And it’s good, I have a case of the end-of-the-year fatigue, the kind where I wonder what all my effort was for.
I need to keep on doing the right things, the things I believe so fervently in. I can’t give up!
My illustration for this is the exercise class I’ve started: Pure Barre. People ask me if I like it. I tell them I don’t like it at all when I’m doing it. It’s like taking one muscle group and torturing it as much as you can, and then move to the next muscle group.
These women doing Pure Barre look happy. I do NOT look like this when I exercise!
But after I’m done, I like it. I feel good, and I’m glad I stuck it out. Even if I only stuck it out because no one else in the class was quitting, so I didn’t want to quit either!
And this is the perfect illustration because so many times during Pure Barre I want to quit. It starts burning. My muscle starts to shake. I just want to stop. (By the way, getting your muscles to shake is the goal of the class. Bizarre.)
One thing that has really helped me lately is I Corinthians 10:13. I did a study of it yesterday, looking at the Greek words. I’ll put the whole verse below, and then break it down.
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not allow you be tempted beyond your ability. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can be able to endure it.
Overtaken: “of that which when taken is not let go; metaphorically, of affections or evils seizing on a man.”
So temptation feels like something has hold of you that you cannot get rid of. It can be an overwhelming FEELING, a strong emotion that takes over. It seems hopeless. You feel powerless and trapped.
This is certainly true for me. I can be swept away, held hostage by such powerful feelings, I can’t even remember how to fight them. My first reaction is to hunker down against the onslaught, to seek relief somehow.
But God is faithful: God will NOT let us drown in our temptation. He cares about our miserable plight. I love how Ps 19 words it –
The ropes of death had become tangled around me. The torrents of destruction had overwhelmed me. . . I cried to my God for help. He heard my voice from his temple . . . Then the earth shook and quaked. . . because he was angry. He reached down from high above and took hold of me. He pulled me out of the raging water.
Allow: to permit. The big point here is that the chaos of temptation isn’t being unleashed on us, God allows it. He controls the force of the temptation, and how much reaches us. Even through it feels overwhelming, God really does not want to give us more than we can bear.
(Beyond your) Ability: the Greek “dunomai,” which has the same root word as dynamite, the word for strength and power. Thus, we’re not just talking about the facility to deal with temptation, we’re talking about the strength and power to address it. God makes sure that the temptation isn’t more than our portion of strength. This also implies that we DO have strength. There are things we absolutely CAN do, even though we feel like we can’t.
That is why the Pure Barre has been a great illustration for me. As my muscles scream, I think I can’t do the isometric reps any more. It seems too painful. But then I find that I can!
Provide : create, fashion. God doesn’t show us a way out that is already there. He, the Creator, actually creates a way out for us. How cool is that?
Way out: escape, result; “the (successful) way out” which also goes on to what is new (desirable). In other words, it isn’t just getting away from the temptation, it is moving towards being in a better place. We aren’t just running from Satan, we are growing, becoming more holy, maturing through discipline, just as we were designed to do. It is the same word as is used in this passage:
Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Heb 13:7
Able: This is the same word, “dunomai,” that was used earlier. God isn’t helping us to escape the temptation. God provides a way for us to have the strength and ability to deal with temptation!!!
Endure it: to bear by being under (a thing placed on one’s shoulders). So it is the sense that we can shoulder the heavy weight of the temptation. Just like I found my body is capable of exercising more than I thought, we can carry the heavy overwhelming emotions more than we thought, we can endure those tough situations more than we thought.
But again, it’s not making the situation go away, it’s not running away from the situation.
It’s the ability to do one more grueling rep, and then another one.
The strength to share with one more person, serve one more time, think one more positive thing, instead of succumbing to fatigue and discouragement.
The fortitude to pray when we’d rather retreat; to pray and pray until we get some relief, just as Jesus did.
It is so much better to think we can endure something, that we are strong enough, than to feel that we have to run away and escape. When I exercise, if I push through, there is such a sense of accomplishment. I did it! What do you know, I am strong!
God wants the same for us. He wants us to be victorious. He wants us to know that with him, we can do anything. Nothing is impossible! Good things are coming, if we’ll just keep doing the reps. And as we keep doing the reps, even though it seems impossible to go on, each day, through each trial, He’ll CREATE a way so we can do one more, and then one more again.