When I Don’t Feel Like Trying Anymore

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Photo from cnn.com

I was one of the millions of people blown away by Mandy Harvey’s inspiring performance on America’s Got Talent. Mandy, 29, explained to the judges that she had been singing since the age of four, but due to a connective tissue disorder, she lost her hearing at age 18. As an amateur musician and avid music lover myself, I well-comprehended the devastation stemming from the loss of this irreplaceable sense. Mandy told the judges, “After I lost my hearing, I gave up, but I want to do more with my life than just give up.”

After sharing her story, Mandy opened her mouth and sang (watch the full video by clicking this link). Her clear, pitch-perfect voice, soared through the hall, to jaw-dropping astonishment.

She sang. I cried. 

I know that feeling she sang about—the feeling that you are giving it your best and your best is never enough; the feeling that no matter how hard you try, you keep on getting knocked down.

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Why we should find joy in suffering (Day 14 of the #encourage marathon)

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Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.

~ James 1.2-3, NASB (click this link for multiple versions).

Welcome to mile-marker 14 of our 26-day encourage marathon.

Someone out there is suffering. It might even be you.

Have you ever cried out to God, “Why, Lord? Why is this happening to me?”

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Do not shrink back (Day 11 of the #encourage marathon)

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Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.

For yet in a very little while,
He who is coming will come, and will not delay.
But My righteous one shall live by faith;
And if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him.

But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.

~ Hebrews 10.35-39, NASB

Welcome to mile-marker 11 of our 26-day #encourage marathon. (You can read yesterday’s post here.)

Someone out there is tempted to shrink back to the world. I hope that it isn’t you! If you are so tempted, I hope this short article will encourage you to keep moving in the right direction.

Today’s passage begins, “Therefore, do not cast away your confidence…” As you read through the Bible, take note of the word, “therefore.” Whenever you spot it, back up a few verses and figure out what it’s there for. In this particular passage, the preceding verses list some of the trauma those Christians had already endured because of their active faith in Christ. The Hebrew writer urges them not to cast aside their confidence/hope because they have already lost so much. He pleads with them to endure and not “shrink back.”

To shrink back is utter failure. To shrink back is forfeiture of the prize.

To “shrink” from something connotes fear coupled with backward motion. Visualize in your mind’s eye a person leaning away from a burning building or stepping slowly backwards from a deadly enemy.

Consider with me, for a moment, the account of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego In Daniel 3. Nebuchadnezzar afforded them with two options—worship an idol with his favor or burn alive under his condemnation. These men had firmly followed God already, and the Lord had blessed them abundantly. Now, they were faced another, far greater challenge. They could have chosen to shrink from the fire and do the easy thing. They did not shrink back, but walked resolutely toward their fear—straight into the fire for the sake of the Lord.

Did God abandon them in the fire? Did he allow it to consume them?

The scripture tells us that an angel was with them in the furnace. When the three men emerged from the fire, their clothes were not singed, and the ropes that bound them had vanished. (There is another lesson in that as well—sometimes our times of trial and testing remove earthly bounds that keep us from the Lord!) They had faith in spite of their fear. Oh, that I and all believers would possess a faith such as theirs!

If there stands in our narrow path fire in front and mountains on either side, we have but two choices—turn back or walk through the fire. Do not shrink back, but look toward the reward that you see flickering beyond the flames. Keep running forward. You will not have to go through the inferno alone. Recall that great cloud of witnesses who have gone before you. They survived the blaze, and, through Christ, you can too.

Don’t shrink back. Press ahead toward the prize. It is a prize that demands everything, but is worth far more than anything.


I hope you’ll continue to join me on FacebookTwitter and here at Elihu’s Corner for this marathon. Share the image or verse reference on your Twitter feed or Facebook page with the hash tag (#encourage). Take time today to copy down this verse for yourself. Send an email or text to someone you know who would benefit from this encouragement.

Make a little time each day to write down these verses. Studies have shown that the physical act of writing increases retention far more than typing or reading. When I was in college, I used to recopy my notes—cleaning them up, adding things I remembered, and placing emphasis on important facts. Because of this effort, I rarely had to cram for midterms or finals. I encourage you to make a practice of copying Bible verses, it really does help in the effort of committing the word to memory.

Here is my handwritten rendering of yesterday’s passage:

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[If you click on the link in the passage at the top of the post, it will take you to BibleGateway.com. From here, you can click a link which allows you to share directly to Twitter, Facebook or send an email.]

If you missed the original post listing all 26 passages, click here to download the PDF list.

Here is a list of the days we’ve covered so far:

Not destroyed (Day 1)

Do not lose heart (Day 2)

More than Conquerors (Day 3)

Joy will come (Day 4)

Renewed Strength (Day 5)

Coming Glory (Day 6)

Run with Endurance (Day 7)

Lift those drooping hands! (Day 8)

Run with Discipline (Day 9)

Run with Endurance (day 7 of #encourage marathon)

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Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

‭Hebrews‬ ‭12:1-3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

It’s Day 7 of our 26-day #Encourage Marathon! One week down! (You can read yesterday’s post here.)

Someone out there is running sluggishly, ready to give up. It might even be you.

The first three verses of Hebrews 12 is a continuation of Hebrews 11, which listed some of those whom I affectionately call the “heroes of faith.” They are witnesses of the power of faith, obedience and endurance. A form of the word ‘endure’ is used 3 times in the first 3 verses of this text. Repetition of a word is a literary device used to emphasize a concept. The author is saying, in effect, “don’t be sluggish, don’t get tired—ENDURE.”

The Hebrew writer encourages us to do three things in this passage to successfully run our race:

Ditch the baggage.

Would you run farther with a heavy backpack or without? Would you run faster with extra weight or without?

While carrying weight for training can increase your strength, it will also wear you out more rapidly. I’m not really a marathon watcher, but I believe that the most I’ve seen those runners carrying are a bottle of water and maybe a phone. Sometimes they have a small fanny pack or belt to hold water/food/etcetera. The water keeps them hydrated, the phone gives them music to keep their mind off the pain. Beyond that, they’re dressed lightly and carrying nothing else. Why? So they can endure to the end of the race. Every additional weight is a liability.

Run your race with God in the same way. Get rid of the sin that wants to hang on. Detach yourself from the physical allurements of life. If we keep trying to take it all with us, we won’t make it.

Endure.

Take time to read Hebrews 11 and take note of who is named:

  • Enoch – walked with God for 300 years (Genesis 5.22-24). It’s hard enough for most of us to do 30-60 years!
  • Noah – built the ark, preached for 100 years.
  • Moses – put up with the Israelites for God’s sake.
  • Joseph – taken as a slave, thrown in prison and still served faithfully
  • Abraham – left everything He knew based on Gods promises and waited two decades to see the promise of offspring.

Also notice how/what they endured in verses 33-38:

  • stopped the mouths of lions (Daniel)
  • quenched the power of fire (Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego)
  • escaped the edge of the sword
  • made strong out of weakness
  • put foreign armies to flight (Gideon, David)
  • tortured
  • mocking
  • flogging
  • chains
  • imprisonment
  • stoned
  • sawn in two
  • killed with the sword
  • Went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated… wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. (most of the prophets including John the Baptist)

Look at the example.

Jesus is the ultimate example of endurance. The passage says, “[Jesus] for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame…” I posted about joy being a good motivator on day 4. Jesus knew that there was coming joy, and for it and for us he endured.

Many who teach and speak about acquiring wealth or achieving success often say that the best way to succeed (in whatever goal you pursue) is to read about, listen to, and/or observe those who have succeeded. These examples are not just motivators, but demonstrators. You see how they achieved success and you are thereby able to emulate their behaviors and choices in the hopes that you also will succeed.

Our goal is heaven (and to bring as many with us as possible). Since Jesus achieved His aims with glorious success, He is the ultimate example. Many of the “heroes” listed above were good examples, but they had their shortcomings. Jesus showed neither foible nor failure. He lived life flawlessly. In our race, let’s commit his example to our mind as we run so that we do not grow weary.

Don’t slouch your way through this race. Run it with endurance. And while you’re running, encourage others to do likewise.


I hope you’ll continue to join me on FacebookTwitter and here at Elihu’s Corner for this marathon. Share this verse on your Twitter feed or Facebook page (#encourage). Take time today to copy down this verse for yourself. Send an email or text to someone you know who would benefit from this encouragement.

I’m a little behind on my passage-copying, but I have some time set aside this afternoon to get caught up. I cannot encourage you enough to write down these verses. Studies have shown that the physical act of writing increases retention far more than typing or reading.

[If you click on the link in the above passage, it will take you to BibleGateway.com. From here, you can click a share link which allows you to share directly to Twitter, Facebook or send an email.]

If you missed the original post listing all 26 passages, click here to download the PDF list.