Determination is a character quality that I admire and strive for in my own life. All of us need encouragement to endure rather than escape hardship. Determination is essential for seeing a project through to completion and it stirs hope and keeps us positive during the long haul of life’s problems.
Here are two things I know about life:
- Opposition and hardship is inevitable.
Paul talks about this in 2 Corinthians 4:8-10 – “We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken. What they did to Jesus they did to us – trial & torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, he does to us – he lives! … While we’re going through the worst, you’re getting in on the best.”
The opposition we face today is not much different than what Paul faced. There are relational struggles, marital disharmony’s, difficulties connected with parenting and financial strains. There are also work challenges, sickness, job loss, accidents and injuries. There is no escaping the downside of human life. Just recently I was in a car accident that reminded me that life can be difficult and change in a split second.
Opposition and difficulties, pain, disappointments, and heartache are reality. Expect them. That way you won’t be caught off guard when they happen.
The second thing I know is:
Paul goes on to say this in verses 16-18 – “So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.”
Usually everything in us cries out “just quit” when we encounter life’s irritations, one after another. But Paul’s counsel is to not lose heart. He is telling us that an attitude of fortitude is needed in life…the motivation of determination. A positive never-say-die attitude is needed to make it through life’s hardships.
One of the best examples of determination I know of is Nehemiah. The book of Nehemiah describes the story of Nehemiah returning to the destroyed city of Jerusalem to rebuild the walls that protected the city, so that the city could be rebuilt and repopulated.
He had three oppressive obstacles:
- Verbal criticism – people openly critical of what he was trying to do
- Secret conspiracy – people working behind his back to stop what he was doing
- Deception – people using intimidation, fear, lies and rumors to stop progress
Despite all of that he completed his project in 52 days. That took leadership and determination. It’s the same way in our lives. When we understand and embrace what Jesus did for us, we can face any opposition or hardship with a positive attitude and determination to make it through no matter what. Here are four helpful hints for living a life of determination:
- Never let life’s difficulties surprise you. Monitor your expectations, be realistic instead of idealistic
- Keep a positive perspective. Remind yourself that God is awesome and in control. Focus on your goals or your most important priorities and don’t get distracted by criticism or circumstances.
- Fight your battles on your knees. Nehemiah spent a lot of time praying. He prayed for help, for protection, for wisdom, for strength, for God’s intervention. Mix brief moments of prayer into your everyday encounters, and spend extended time with God pouring out your heart.
- Stay close to others. God never meant for us to be lone rangers. None of us are totally self-sufficient. Having community or relationships with other people is vital in making it through hardships and opposition. Surround yourself with good people.
Whatever you are facing today, know that God is with you and for you. He has promised to never leave us and to walk through every valley with us. Like Nehemiah and Paul we can have extraordinary determination only when we plug into God. It’s our choice, I suggest plugging into him and following his lead. Be determined to finish the journey you have started on the path God put you on.