Step By Step
A few years ago I was diagnosed with cancer. So for several months I went to the same place every day for radiation. I remember that one of the nurses in the radiation department had a handwritten sign on her wall that said: “I have 2 simple rules for my patients. Rule #1: Take one step forward! Rule #2: When you don’t think you can take one more step, refer back to rule number one!”
It was a clever way to encourage cancer patients to persevere in treatment, and one that I’m sure inspired a lot of folks. I will admit however, that every time I looked at it, I thought her formula was missing a key ingredient. It didn’t say where the strength comes from to take that additional step. In other words, when we’re tired and worn out and feel like we just can’t do it anymore, where do we go to get the strength we need to persevere?
Over the past few weeks I’ve been thinking about that sign, and about persevering - mostly because we’re coming to the end of a summer that has been full of challenges, and so there are a lot of folks I know who are feeling tired and worn out. And honestly, I can include myself in that group. So the question of where we go to get the strength we need to persevere has been on my mind a lot lately.
Fortunately, the Apostle Paul helps us answer that question. Listen to how he addresses this very subject in 2 Corinthians 1:8-9, where he writes: “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. 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.”
In many ways, Paul is considered to be the “Iron Man” of the New Testament. He showed up for work every day - despite overwhelming hardships and opposition. And he continued to persevere in both success and failure. But despite Paul's “Iron Man” spirit, there was still a time when even he was ready to throw in the towel. And when Paul thought he could not take one more step, he discovered that the power to persevere comes from relying on God.
In this passage from 2 Corinthians, Paul reminds us that - if God can raise the dead - it’s not a problem for Him to give us the strength we need to take one more step in our lives. In other words, God supplies the power we need to persevere. The challenge is, we need to actively turn to Him, ask for His help, and then accept it. And I say that’s a “challenge” because all too often when we face situations or circumstances that we think we can’t handle, we turn to things other than God. But Paul reminds us that, if we want to persevere in our walk with God - no matter what’s going on in life - we need to turn to God who is the source of the strength we need to do it.
Here’s the truth we cannot forget: God will help us take one more step through our illness; He will help us take one more step in our heartache; He will help us take one more step in healing broken relationships; He will help us take one more step towards freedom from addiction; He will help us take one more step in persevering in purity. He will help us take one more step in our singleness, our parenting, our marriage, our work - whatever our challenge is. No matter what difficult things we face, with God's help we can take one more step.
So today let’s remember that the One who is able to raise the dead is also the One who supplies the strength to make it through the challenges of life on this planet. And with that in mind, let’s ask Him to help us take one more step.