I work as a nurse in intensive care, and the vast majority of our patients have cardiac related problems. A woman came in some time ago in need of a big surgery – she had a couple of valves replaced, and after her surgery she had one complication after another. She was older but active before she came to us, and she just wanted to get home…but at every turn it seemed as though she hit roadblocks. We couldn’t get her off the ventilator, which was helping her to breathe. She had bad reactions to some of the medications we gave. Because she couldn’t breathe on her own and couldn’t eat normally, she was fed through a tube. After a time she did improve, and from a medical perspective she had gotten past the most critical part of her treatment. But by then she was depressed and discouraged by the length of time it was taking her to recover. She was sick of needing so much help, sick of not eating on her own, sick of not breathing on her own, and sick of not being free to do what she had done before. Two things happened: she stopped believing that she could recover, and she allowed her anxiety to get the better of her. She stopped participating in her care, and mentally gave up. This is the story of not just this patient, but of many patients…The struggle goes on so long that they can’t see the end goal, and so they stop hoping, and stop trying.
[pullquote type=”right”]We are unsatisfied and unhappy, but we don’t want to work for anything better because no matter what we’ve ever done before, nothing has ever really seemed to help. [/pullquote]
We do this same thing in our lives sometimes, don’t we? We struggle for a long time with the same old things…The same old relationship problems, the same old kid problems, the same old health problems, the same old sin problems, the same old addiction problems. Every day we look into our mirrors and see what we saw yesterday, and the day before that. No progress. And after a long, long time, we stop seeing the possibility of change and we settle into a chronic unrest about our situation. We are unsatisfied and unhappy, but we don’t want to work for anything better because no matter what we’ve ever done before, nothing has ever really seemed to help. We stop believing that recovery is possible because of our past experience, and we give up completely on the future.
That patient and I had a little chat after a few days of me taking care of her. I looked her in the eye and put on my “let’s level with each other” face. I told her that she was improving, but that she would never really get better if her mind and heart weren’t in the game. I told her that she had to work for a good ending and believe that she could recover. If she really wanted to get home, she would have to do difficult and even painful things. It was within her reach, but only if she was willing to put her all into it. She pondered it all, and for the rest of that day we worked on breathing and moving and staying positive. Unfortunately others sometimes make the opposite decision, and despite their physical healing they never really live the way they did before.
[pullquote type=”left”]We can’t give up and just let it all fall apart.[/pullquote]Let’s level with each other, here and now. Whatever you’re going through and whatever I’m going through is never going to get better if our minds and hearts aren’t in the game. We can’t give up and just let it all fall apart. We’ve got promises – promises from GOD – that tell us why we shouldn’t give up! Look at just a few…
Isaiah 40:31 Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; They will run and not grow weary, They will walk and not be faint.
Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.
Romans 5:1-5 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
[pullquote type=”right”]God is not a dispenser of wishes. But when we obey and persevere through the circumstances of life and trust Him with the outcome, He promises great things – things we can count on.[/pullquote]In these three passages (which are only three out of many) what does God promise to us when we persevere through trials and struggles? In Isaiah He promises renewal of our strength; in Deuteronomy He promises the constant companionship of our God; in Romans He promises perseverance, character, and hope in the absence of shame. God doesn’t promise that you’ll get exactly what you want, and He doesn’t promise that the end will be just as you hope it will be. He doesn’t promise that we will always be comfortable or that we will see the purpose of things the way He does. God is not a dispenser of wishes. But when we obey and persevere through the circumstances of life and trust Him with the outcome, He promises great things – things we can count on.
Like the patients that I care for, we have to keep the end goal in mind – even when we can’t see it. We KNOW what the end will be for those of us who trust Christ as the leader of our lives and the forgiver of our sins. Our toughest battle has already been fought and won by our Savior, so keep in your mind’s eye the end that God promises to those who believe. Keep praying, keep fighting, keep working, keep surrendering, keep loving, keep asking, keep seeking, keep trying, keep trusting, keep believing…Get your head and your heart back in the game, and believe that God will do what He promises!
Hebrews 12:1-3 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.[custom_headline type=”right” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h4″ accent=”true”]Standing on the promises of God, Melissa[/custom_headline]
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