What roles and duties have you been given in your life?
We all have different parts to play.
Are you a counselor and encourager to your colleagues?
A leader to your family?
We all have different roles to play in life.
Father, Mother. Wife, Husband.
Brother, Sister. Son, Daughter.
Friend, Student. Worker, Teacher.
Soldier, Counselor, Listener , Leader.
Team member, Rebuker, Trainer.
Disciple. Mediator. Protector.
Some of us have been assigned one role, others have multiple roles. You could be a son to your family, a counselor and teacher to your friend, an encourager in your workplace, a man pursuing God – all simultaneously.
We all desire to fulfill our roles well. We want to serve in them competently and courageously. We don’t want to let ourselves or others down.
But there are times where life gets hard. We experience setbacks, failures, exhaustion, suffering. We lose hope. We may have handled these pressures for some time – a very long time even – but now they’ve gone on so long that the never-ending emotional stress has worn us down. There are times where it all seems too hard and we feel like giving up on our duties.
I know I’ve felt those feelings many times.
I know what it is to want to quit being a son for your family because to share in their trials and tribulations is too painful.
I know what it is to want to give up on reaching out to people because you feel like you’ve given so much but been able to change so little.
I know what it is to want to give up telling the truth and instead turn a blind eye to the things you know you shouldn’t, simply because it’s easier and safer than risking conflict.
I know what it is to want to want to give up on your studies or your work and ask, ‘is all this effort and stress really worth it?’ ‘I feel so inadequate…God, am I really good enough to do this?’ (see what I wrote about this here)
We have all experienced that deep soul weariness and exhaustion that comes when there are multiple difficulties with friends, family and work – all combining to overwhelm us in our moments of weakness.
What do we feel at these breaking points?
Our heart whispers to us:
Give up. It’s not worth it. All this stress and pain and tiredness just isn’t worth it. What’s the point anyway?
Friends, if you feel this way, you are not alone. What you feel is common to all of us. When faced with hardship, our natural instinct is to always escape from stress and difficulty and pressure.
The mindset of the world is focused this way. People will often counsel you to escape and avoid hardship and pressure. When we have a decision to make and a path to choose, people will often recommend the easiest road with the least obstacles.
Extended time under stress is not to be advised. No one will tell you that suffering can produce anything good, nor is it a thing to be willingly entered into.
Stress is to be escaped from, and if the activities and duties you are doing are bringing you under chronic stress, they are to be done away with and exchanged for activities and duties with less stress. Why face a problem when it can be bypassed and ignored?
But Jesus never said this.
This is what he said:
“Take up your cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9)
His approach is radically unlike the world’s, yet straightforward and plain.
Do not give up, do not run away, do not shirk your duty. But deny yourself and fulfill your roles everyday, even when it involves facing suffering as severe as death. For we do not go it alone into the difficulties of our tasks, but we follow a leader who goes with us and leads by example.
Doing your duty as a son, as a student, as a friend, as a servant of God – requires you to “do the right thing even when it burns“. And the right thing is not to run away, but to continue to ‘lay down your life for your friends’. (1 John 3)
This is the calling of every human being, including you and I. Men like the Apostle Paul practiced and said the same thing:
“I face death every day” (1 Cor 15)
STAND AT YOUR POSTS
This paradigm of willingly facing death every day is foreign to the world. Most never consult God, maybe because He leads us down the harder path more often then we would like to hear. Whilst the world says ‘abandon your post and find something easier’, Jesus points to the path of more obstacles, more difficulty and says – ‘follow me and do your duty.’ (Luke 12)
But we also realise this –
That there are things in this life worth fighting for (1 Timothy 6).
That there is certain fruit that grows only in the crucible of stress and trial (1 Peter 6).
That there are times where men should stand up with courage and enter into situations and circumstances in order to do the will of God.
That life is not always a walk in the park, but much of life in fact requires hard labour for God (Acts 9).
And we know that sometimes these trials go on for a very, very long time.
In such situations, the correct counsel is not to flee from stress and suffering.
But such situations call for patient endurance on the part of the people of God (Rev 14). Their only hope is this – trusting in their deliverer, calling upon his help and courage to have hearts filled with endurance, perseverance and resolve (2 Cor 1).
In combat, a man will endure under exhaustion, violence and emotional and physical duress. He will endure in this for days, weeks, months and years at a time. It will take its toll on his heart and his soul and his body. Many may fall at his side, thousands to his left, ten thousand to his right (Psalm 91). But there are men who will continue to hang on, never give up and fight for all that is good in this world. In his times of struggle and defeat and longing to give up, he finds tough, but wise counsel – not to avoid difficuty, run away and find a place of less stress – but to do the right thing, even when it hurts.
Friends – if this is what a man in the physical world does for his country, if this is what he faces daily for both comrades and even strangers – how much more should the man of God stand at his post in the crucible, facing the stressors of his allotment in life and doing his duty before man and God? The mature man or woman of faith faces death daily – and if they feel like giving up, they do not, for they cry to their Lord and their God emboldens their heart. In difficult situations at home, with family, with friends, with work, in the battle against sin and the battle for the hearts of the lost, under duress from suffering and tension and chronic fatigue and the weakness of our own humanity – the spiritual man must never give up. The spiritual woman must never give up.
Face death every day. Stand firm, and do not be moved. Never give up.
Take up your cross daily, follow Him.
Lay down your life for your friends.
1 Corinthians 15:31: “I die daily” (John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible)
…[Paul] was one that was in jeopardy or danger of his life every hour; he always bore in his body the dying of the Lord Jesus, and was continually delivered to death for Jesus’ sake; death was always working in him, he expected it every day, and was ready for it; he did not count his life dear unto himself, but was very willing to lay it down for the sake of Christ and his Gospel; which he would never have done, if he had not good reason to believe the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead.
…We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.