“The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV
There’s rarely a time when I can’t appreciate a bit of encouragement. Scripture tells us many times not to be discouraged, and I imagine the reason the Lord spoke it so many times was because it is a trap into which the enemy often plots for us to fall. Years ago, I heard a story told by Bishop Carlton Pearson about a woman who attended his church when he was a little boy. Her name was Mother Sherman. She would ask him, “You yet holdin’ on?” He would affirm that he was holding on in the faith, to which she would respond, “Well, keep on keeping on then, baby” (Pearson, 1997).
100 Day Promise
No matter how old we are, we all need encouragement to keep holding on to our faith. This past week I was scrolling through Facebook. I saw that a friend had posted a photo of her child celebrating his 100th day of school. I immediately thought of my last 100th day of school when I taught first grade, and I scrolled through my gazillion photos to that day so that I could share my photo on her page. The date was January 23, 2013.
In the photo, I was standing in my kitchen in front of my pantry. My intent was to take a photo of my hair and makeup, and the outfit that I’d put together for that day. I’d used baby powder in my hair to give it that gray look and a black eye liner to draw lines where wrinkles might show up from 100 years of laughing at or scolding little children. I had on pearls, a turtle neck, jogging pants, bedroom slippers, and a bathrobe. I knew my first graders would get a kick out of my get-up for the day.
As I looked back on that photo taken so many years ago, something caught my eye. It was part of a 4×6 index card that was poster-puttied to the pantry door where I could see it every day. On it was Scripture. 3 John 1:2, “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers” (NKJV). That photo on the 100th day of school was taken when I was still holding on to a promise in the Word.
Holding On to the Promises
Holding on to the promises in the Word truly became a lifestyle as we used it to war for the health of our son. The battle wasn’t easy and we at times became weary. But holding on was the only viable option! Have you ever been there? Maybe you are even there right now – holding on and waiting for God’s Word to come to pass in your life.
Waiting is rarely fun. However, the way we wait may impact the outcome. At the very least, it determines our mental health in the waiting. A few years ago, Chris Tomlin wrote a song titled Whom Shall I Fear. The lyrics reference the Scripture found in Isaiah 54:17. Tomlin wrote, “nothing formed against me shall stand. . . . I’m holding on to Your promises. You are faithful” (2012). Truly, God is certainly faithful to perform His Word. In fact, Jeremiah 1:12 (ESV), reads, “Then the Lord said to me, ‘You have seen well, for I am watching over My Word to perform it.'”
The Hard, Long, Unfair Place
The promise written on that card and hung on my kitchen pantry door has been fulfilled in the life of my son. In the waiting, it was hard. It felt long. Things felt unfair. But we kept the Word of God in front of our faces every single day, in various locations all around the house. The wait was hard, but God was our Comforter. It was long, but we were never alone. It felt unfair, but God brought new mercies every day to help us endure the difficulty.
If you are in a place that seems hard, long, and unfair, keep holding on to the Word. Keep on keeping on, God will never fail you. He will never leave you. His Word will never disappoint. Do not be discouraged, keep holding on.
Remember, there will come a day when you will be able to tell how He helped you overcome today’s adversity and step into tomorrow’s miracle. Keep believing for a miracle. Charles Tinley (1905) wrote, “we’ll tell the story, how we’ve overcome.” When that occurs, your miraculous testimony becomes the key to someone else’s breakthrough. You see, the Word tells us in Revelation 12:11a, “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony.”
Keep believing! Keep holding on to your promise, your miracle is on the way. Indeed, it is on the way! Keep holding on!
Today's adversity is tomorrow's miracle. Keep holding on!
Let this hope burst forth within you, releasing a continual joy. Don’t give up in a time of trouble, but commune with God at all times.
Romans 12:12 TPT
The morning was a slow-starting Saturday. While Saturday isn’t necessarily my favorite day of the week, I love the sluggish starts that Saturday allows. Extra patience never needed, I appreciate staying home as I get in extra stretches and don’t feel rushed to jump into makeup or other confinements that make one presentable to society. I donned a very comfy pair of pants befitting the brisk breezy conditions outside. Unlocking the kennel gate, I walked my impatient dog and then strolled to the coffee maker.
I always prefer my table cleared and covered with a black tablecloth that matches my window valence. This morning, however, the table was completely covered with baskets and cleaning products. I’d heard sounds earlier in the morning that made me believe that I’d find it in this condition. I mentally prepared myself to have patience and be calm. Sure enough, it was every bit as bad as I had imagined.
I saw my husband leaning over the still-full washing machine messing with the red metal twisty thing behind the heavy machine (post-coffee known as a water valve shutoff handle). I looked at the dusty mess covering my table and his general stiff demeanor. Clearly what he was discovering was going to cost time and resources. The amount of the cost was yet undetermined.
I felt poised. The last couple of loads had given me a warning message. The message usually meant that the screen that filtered dirt from our well outside needed washing off. In bright red lights, it read F02. Failure. This is not a task that I can do myself. I always wait until my husband has free time to look at it and muscle the hose from the spicket. He’d just returned from a business trip the previous Tuesday, which coincided with the day I’d left town for a writer’s conference. The washer had been free from use and corresponding error message for a week. It wasn’t until this lovely, lazy Saturday morning, that the problem resurfaced when he started a load before I’d even made it out of bed.
I watched my husband work and waited quietly until he explained the problem he saw. He stated that the valve itself had a leak and he was concerned about the impact of the leak on the sub-floor. I followed my initial gasp quickly with an audible, “oh no!” It had been less than two years since we’d completely gutted the kitchen and laundry areas all the way down to the floor joists. The job had been a considerable expense, and my husband and dad spent a great deal of time to complete the project. I didn’t want to ever repeat that messy, inconvenient experience. My husband grabbed his jacket and his keys and headed to our local home improvement store for the parts that he needed.
As I poured my cup of coffee, I felt a nudging of the Lord not to worry. I put aside thoughts of a damaged floor. I sat down to allow the warm beverage to help soothe my body as the Lord’s words had soothed my soul.
It wasn’t much longer before Keith returned, new valves in hand. He told me that He felt God speak to him on the way to town that our floor hadn’t been damaged. I told him God spoke the same thing to my heart, as well!
Thankful in the Mess
He quickly replaced the valve and tightened everything down. I cleaned up the now-damp dust bunnies that covered the floor area where the washer rested for so long. I began to think about all the things I was thankful for in this situation. First, we hadn’t had to call a plumber. Keith had been able to make the repairs himself much faster than I’d have thought possible. Keith hadn’t hollered, busted his knuckles, or made guttural sounds of manly agitation at any point in the morning. Secondly, I was thankful that the floor under the washer felt quite sound. We’d made wise purchases when replacing the sub-floor, a couple of years previously, and that investment had paid off. Thirdly, I had the opportunity to clean an area that had been quite neglected for two years. I even found a missing gardening glove!
As I cleaned with all these pleasant thoughts in mind, I felt thankful for Keith. I spoke those words to him as he put the washer back in place. Then I spent the next little bit cleaning out the baskets of cleaning supplies that I kept on top and restarted the washer to finish the cycle from the last load.
Continuing with my morning cleaning, in a rare throw-it-away stage of mind, I heard beeping permeating my brain once again. Sure enough, F02 clearly flashed on the window of the washing machine. Failure. Two choices were before me. I could get irritated or I could be patient. I chose the latter while I texted Keith to let him know. Once again, I began the process of taking everything off the tops of the washer and dryer. Laughing, I thought that at least everything was clean and more organized on top this time. It certainly made the job easier.
Each time Keith adjusted part of the machine, I was confident that this latest action would be the one that would repair the washer. I would place my non-skid mats back down on top of the washer and dryer, and return my baskets of gardening gloves, vegetable buckets, and cleaning supplies. I’d love to say that it my great faith pushed me to return everything back in place so promptly. I must admit, however, that seeing my table covered in these items caused me feelings of tension. I can hardly stand my things being out of place if it is in my ability to make them orderly.
By about the fifth time, I just left everything on the table. Putting items back where they belonged wasted my valuable time. The beeping sound and error F02 message still sounded each time the washer got to the final drain cycle. It was almost a taunting noise – coming just when we thought we’d found success. At this point, we decided Keith had done all he knew to do. The machine was an old one, and it would be best to make the drive into town to investigate the models available for a replacement of the much-used washer.
I got ready to go, trading the comfortable black lounge pants for more confining
blue jeans and quickly added some color to my face – all the things I prefer to avoid on Saturdays. I laughed and chose not to get agitated or feel drained just because my washer wouldn’t. We drove an hour into town. After the sixth appliance store visit, however, I was tired. Patience ceased to be a virtue in my possession. I believe there must be a rule that appliances must be located in the furthest possible point from the entrance and exit doors. I was tired of comparing prices, looking for the best deal, and trying to stretch my too-short arms into a too-deep washing machine drums. So when the sales clerk stated that she had a front-load washer in stock and would give us an amazing deal on it due to our extended wait, I was elated!
We walked back to the front of the store to pay, headed to the truck, and pulled around to the loading area. We waited and waited, and then we waited some more. No one came bearing anything resembling a washing machine box. Keith returned to the customer service desk to discover that the washing machine we’d paid for was not in the store and would need to be ordered. It would be in the following Friday.
I felt impatient with patience. My desire to go home, watch Keith put in our new washer, and unload my table of its burdens outweighed all other thoughts. I wanted to crawl into bed listening to the quiet hum of a new washer and feel the zero-vibration promise of the new washer, so unlike our older model that made the glasses in my china cabinet chatter.
Looking into the eyes of my husband, hoping by some miracle that he could make this news not be true, I decided that, again, I had a choice to make. I could choose to vent my frustration on the hard-working clerk, or I could remember that she could very well walk into my church the very next day. What would I do if she did? Would my behavior embarrass me now and later, or would I choose to follow my husband’s patient lead? I chose the latter.
Patience is not always an easy choice. I suppose that if it were, everyone would do it. There is a verse in the book of John in which Jesus stated that in this world we would have trouble (John 16:33). Today seemed to have been full of trouble and opportunities to lose my cool. But in true Jesus-fashion, He left us with the promise that we could have peace no matter the troubles we face, because He’d overcome the world.
No matter how things appear on the exterior, the inside of each human is full of emotions at various states of expression. Some are aloof, some are relaxed, some are joyful. Others are volatile or on edge – but there isn’t one person on the planet who doesn’t have emotions. No matter the difficulties we face, it’s wise to remember there’s nothing more important than showing love to people.
Be Patient in Trouble
I don’t know that Sharon will remember the tired woman with the nearly-bruised ribs who reached into every washing machine on her sales floor. I’m unsure if she saw the man who pulled my husband and me into a prayer huddle on our way out the door. I don’t know how many other people she’d served that day. I’m not sure who had lost their patience with her when things didn’t work out as they planned. Thankfully, I held my tongue in check when I felt my emotions edge toward impatience.
Romans 12:12 (TLB) reads, “Be glad for all God is planning for you. Be patient in trouble, and prayerful always.” I often fall short in various troublesome situations, but the Word reminds me to be patient. God never fails to help us overcome failure. Patiently hold to the hope of His purposes.
God never fails to help us overcome failure. Patiently hold to the hope of His purposes.
Tonight, as I avoid looking at the pile of baskets, cleaning supplies, and gardening gloves on my table, I thank God for the beeping of Failure 02. We escaped serious, costly damage to our laundry floor because we discovered a leaking valve. We now own a new, much-needed washer replacing the broken one. I have a husband who sets the standard high when I feel my own emotions slipping.
What a blessing to have a friend we’d not seen in years pray over us! It didn’t matter that he did so right in the middle of the front aisle of a home-improvement store! I feel incredibly thankful for the messages of love God constantly pours over me through His Word and His people. I’m thankful for the attainability of patience. Like love, patience is a choice.
The Choice is Yours
In conclusion, I want to encourage you to choose patience if you are dealing with something frustrating. There is a song by Hillsong Music, titled “Elohim” (2016) which declares that God’s promises will never fail even when we are in a trial. The song goes on to say that God is patient because God is love. This refers to the scripture in 1 Corinthians 13:4 that declares that “love is patient.” (Click the title to play this amazingly peaceful song. Music often sets the atmosphere and helps us achieve a more patient outlook on our experiences.)
Look for the things about your situation which are positive. Also listen to see if God is trying to speak to you, even in the midst of difficulty. God constantly whispers comforting confidence into the hearts of His children bringing calm to the chaos. I recently wrote an article about God speaking in the strangest ways. Read the article when you have time. But most importantly, hold on steadfastly. Be persistent. Our failures are not permanent and God will not fail you. Choose patience and joy. Focus on the opportunities God may be bringing your way. Remember Romans 12:12: “Be happy in your hope. Do not give up when trouble comes. Do not let anything stop you from praying” (NLV).
We can learn patience even from moments of frustration or failure. Patience 101 is a prayer away.
God constantly whispers comforting confidence into the hearts of His children bringing calm to the chaos.