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How Long Is This Going to Last?

That seems to be the natural worry whenever someone is facing or is in the midst of a hardship. No one wants to hang out where the going gets hard. We know there is no instant bliss for pain that goes deep, especially heart pain. But still, we wonder if we can endure these tests of endurance and fatigue. We might even doubt what we believed to be God's will because of the constant obstacles in our path.

Early this summer my husband took me away for an overnight date. A date I pretty much demanded of God (I prayed and cried to God for that date). I felt desperate for attention for us. We simply get too busy coping with school, jobs, and people, that pretty soon there is no more us. We had a lovely, boring time. I found it amusing that boring had become a lovely thing.

The next morning, in the breakfast room of our hotel, we (everyone in the breakfast room) were privileged to a play by play of a failing marriage. It was a small room, but seriously, Lower your voice, Lady! The narrator was a younger woman of about thirty, and her devoted listener probably late fifties or sixty. 

As Bruce and I made our way through our grapefruits and oatmeal, rather silently, I became more and more riled. Not because her complaints were unusual but rather because they were usual. The one that made me instinctively stand and attempt to leave the room was this...

"I mean, I know that commitment is a part of it. I know about commitment. I'm a Christian. But I'm doing everything I can." She takes a sip of coffee and pauses for effect... "OK. Listen to this...I decided to to take three weeks off work and just be present at home...I gave it everything for three weeks. And do you know he didn't even notice?"

Bruce told me to sit down again so I did, but my insides were boiling mad. If you're committed to something like marriage and losing weight and a job; you don't commit to those things for three week increments. It's for life. Or at least for the life of the spouse, overweight body, and employment. I got all judge-y about it but realized later how very much alike we humans are.

There are two things that are constant battles for me and I too get discouraged with being committed if I don't see instant results. Those two things are my weight and my communication skills, which in turn causes problems for my marriage. I'm not going to go into detail about how I fail at these things. My point is that I too have trouble with staying happily committed to those things that are a battle for me.

However, I become less judge-y when I am in the middle of the wilderness. It's there I, like the Children of Israel, grow discouraged with my circumstances and begin to complain. I too, like they did, lose hope. I become tired of my manna and quail and fresh spring water and clothes that never wear out. I become un-accepting of what God has given me for provisions. I long for less pain. I want instant relief from conversations that seem to cause more pain. I want easy or at least, easier.

I think in true commitment, the question of how long is not proactive. When we can lose the mentality that there must be an end to this pain and suffering that God has allowed into our lives, then we can be surrendered to the work He is performing. When we realize that God has a purpose in giving us crosses to bear...then we have the strength to continue.

When we fix our eyes on our eternal goal, realizing that God is making us more like Himself in the meantime, our feeble cries of "Lord have mercy" and "Deliver me" become more meaningful...There is so much strength in our weakness.

Never stop crying those feeble cries. Those are the cries of the broken and contrite spirit. Those are the ones that makes us more accepting of what God is doing in our hearts. Those cries are humble, sincere, and full of victory.

And because this scripture says it so much better than I can...

Hebrews 12:1-18 King James Version (KJV)

12 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.
And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:
For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?
10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.
11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
12 Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees;
13 And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.
14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:


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