It’s been hard, oh, I know that.
It’s been humbling and it has felt like nothing is working and it’s all uphill and you’re wondering why you even bother. It has felt like two steps-forward-one-step-back. It has reminded you over and over again that you are not in charge because if you were, you would surely run the universe better than this. It has swept aside your evangelical hero complex. It has disabused you of your idealism, leaving you a path only through reality. There is more grief than you thought you could bear. It’s messier than you thought it would be. It has proven more complex than you could have imagined. It has hurt like hell. And it has felt futile and ineffective.
People talk about “Victory!” but sometimes it takes all of our energy to just keep not quitting.
Oh, there are days of hope, too.
There are days of excellence and abundance. There are moments of brilliance and flashes of renewal.
There are times when you get a glimpse – just a glimpse – of the abundant life you believe in so deeply. You are daring to stand between what is and what will be and what longs to be, you know this.
There are times when right in the middle of the hard and the impossible you find yourself thinking, “I’ve never felt more alive and I’ve never been happier than right now.”
There are moments when you feel the needle moving, when you feel the arch of the universe actually bending towards justice and love and shalom.
There are days when you feel like you’re in the right lane and you feel a whole cloud of witnesses cheering for the race you are running.
But other days….well, the heavens are rather silent and you feel like you are plodding along in a dirt track without an end game.
We know we’re more than conquerors. We should be strong and courageous. We know that we will reap a mighty harvest if we faint not. We know that with God all things are possible.
Those grand words can feel far away from our lived reality sometimes.
And then the greatest act of faith I have in my arsenal is my stubbornness.
Keep not quitting.
Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Keep showing up. Keep praying, keep standing, keep working.
Even if there are days like today, days when you feel like the only success was that you didn’t quit, then you are still there – I call that a victory of its own.
You are working the muscles of perseverance and selflessness, of service and dogged hopefulness. You are a sticker. You’re not someone who shows up when it’s easy and leaves when it’s time to dig in. You are committed to seeing mountains move. You are not undone by powers and principalities. You are choosing life.
You are declaring in a defiant act of faith that there is no futility, not to God’s economy where nothing – not even our failures and our discouragement and our disillusionment – is wasted..
Victory doesn’t always look how we thought it would: sometimes the victory is the seed that falls to the ground and dies for new life to be born. Some rewards only come after faithfulness. An old preacher used to say, “Without battles, there is no victory.”
This is not the end. Keep not quitting for today at least.
Cultivate joy and rest and renewal as an act of resistance.
Don’t underestimate faithfulness – or stubbornness.
Small acts of faith are still acts of faith.
Keep not quitting: holding fast in the face of the storms and the silence and the sorrow is its own sort of victory.