Have you ever struggled to persevere in obedience and follow God when circumstances seem to be pulling you under? There have been times that I’ve wanted to give up on staying obedient to what God had called me to. I’ve grown weary of the constant struggle and battle that His path had entailed.
And I’ve wanted to turn the other way, retreat back to my comfort and safety zone - far from God’s abundant peace and hope.
But looking back, I’m eternally grateful that I persisted in obedience. I’m so grateful for the encouragement that I found in friends, community and other resources. And I want to share that hope with you today.
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When God called me to follow Him, He took me on a whirlwind of ups and downs that led to healing and restoration in my life. But it wasn’t easy. And many of the steps I had to take required great pain and sacrifice. Often these were the moments I wanted to turn back.
Wasn’t it easier before? I kept thinking: Sure there were strongholds in my life, but at least before my life was predictable and it was comfortable. And sometimes the steps that God asked me to take required risk and painful struggle. Things I wasn’t sure sure would be beneficial or good in the end.
What about you? Have you decided to follow and obey God’s call for you and felt the pushback and the struggle? Have you grown weary in continuing to obey God when things get hard?
The good news is that when we persevere in obedience and hold strong until the end, there is enormous blessing. I know this both from experience and from Scripture.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. -Galatians 6:9
Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. -1 Timothy 6:12
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” - James 1:2-4
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” - Romans 8:28
These are just a few of my favorite encouraging verses in perseverance. Just do a Google search: “perseverance Bible verses” and you will find so many more!
So how do we persist in obedience? Let’s take a look at some of the most powerful and encouraging ways to obey God even when you are feeling weary and overcome.
Friendships and Mentors
The one-on-one relationships that can encourage you and hold you accountable are indispensable as you grow in your faith and follow God. These are the relationships that will sharpen you, hold you up and help carry your burdens.
I would not be where I am today without the close friends and mentors that God brought into my life.
Throughout the Bible we see examples of friendship and mentorships that encouraged and guided people to live out the will of God in big ways.
Moses and Joshua. Elijah and Elisha. Ruth and Naomi. Jesus and his disciples. Timothy and Paul. And so many more!
Do you have a friend that you can go to and talk about the deep stuff, the tough stuff? If you don’t I would encourage you to invest in growing these deeper friendships. Not only is it a blessing to be encouraged by these deep friendships, but it is a huge blessing to be an encouragement to a friend.
I really recommend reading this book, it has been really powerful in helping me to patiently grow friendships that reflect God’s will for these relationships.
Pray that God will grow these relationships in your life and if you already have a friend or mentor like this, pray that God will work through them to encourage you and through you to encourage them.
On a similar and yet very different note, being a part of a church community is essential as you seek to follow God through the ups and downs. We are called to be a part of a church community, whatever that may look like.
I don’t think it matters as much what denomination, what type of building or worship your church has or what day of the week you go, but having a biblical and God-fearing church and church community is powerful as a support.
Not only can God work through you to do His will within your church, but He can work through the community, the sermons, worship and service to strengthen you as you persevere in His will.
Even though I struggled with many aspects about my church after I got married, it was this community where I found hope and support to keep me strong in following God’s will. It was this community where I began to build those deep and meaningful friendships. And it was this community that taught me so much about what it means to obey God and to follow His will for us in Scripture.
If you are struggling to get connected or struggling to find a church, I want to encourage you to pray that God would nudge you in the right direction and open the right doors. As you seek Him, He will lead you.
Meditate on Scripture
Our minds are a war zone. Satan knows where our weaknesses are. He has been studying us. He knows just how to tempt us into hopelessness and anxiety. He knows just which moment to step in and attack.
And as we move closer to God’s will for us, we become that much more important to Satan.
So how do we fight these attacks? We have to fill our minds with Scripture and meditate on it.
This is also a very powerful way to replace anxious or hopeless thoughts. This always reminds me of the metaphor of the pink elephant:
If someone says don’t think about a pink elephant - what are you thinking about? A pink elephant!
When thoughts of discouragement or anxiety enter into your mind, you can immediately replace those with Scripture. This has been one of the biggest practices for me to find hope and encouragement when things are tough.
As you walk the path God has for you, you will face struggles and obstacles. But in filling your mind with Scripture, it will equip you to stand firm against Satan’s lies and to find the strength to persevere.
And Pray on All Occasions!
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. -Ephesians 6:18
Priscilla Shirer says that prayer unlocks the power of God in our lives.
When we pray, we invite the Holy Spirit into our moments and this strengthens and sustains us. I don’t know about you, but I sure need that strength. Especially when I’m walking on a path that God has for me.
I have been encouraged to pray fervently, consistently and boldly with a surrendered heart and this has transformed me as I walk in obedience.
I love these books that teach you specific and powerful ways to pray for all aspects of your life.
I want to encourage you to spend some dedicated time in prayer every day. Start a prayer journal that you can record your prayers and praises as you walk through God’s call for you.