You Put Your Right Foot In...
Several years ago I went through treatment for cancer. There are many things I remember about that experience, but one thing I still think about at least once a week was a handwritten sign one of the nurses had put on the wall of the treatment room. It said: “I have two simple rules for my patients. Rule #1: Take one step forward! Rule #2: When you don’t think you can take one more step, please 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 was very effective with a lot of folks. But for me, I felt like she was missing a key ingredient from her formula - she didn’t say where we could get the strength to take that additional step when we felt completely depleted. In other words, when we’re tired and worn out, where do we go to get the strength needed to persevere?
The good news is that the Apostle Paul gives us that missing piece of the formula. 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, the Apostle Paul was the “Iron Man” of the New Testament. He showed up for work every day - despite overwhelming hardships and opposition. And he persevered in living for Christ through success and failure, and through some of the toughest situations a person can encounter. However, this passage in 2nd Corinthians helps us see that, despite his “Iron Man” attitude, there was still a time when even the Apostle Paul was ready to throw in the towel. But, it’s when Paul thought he could not take one more step that he discovered the power to persevere comes from relying on God.
In 2 Corinthians 1:8-9, Paul reminds us that if God can raise the dead, then it’s no problem for Him to give us the strength to take one more step in whatever situation we’re facing. In other words, God supplies the power we need to persevere in life. The challenge is that we need to turn to God, 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 life, we need to turn to God for the strength to do it.
This means that 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 in persevering in purity. He will help us take one more step in our singleness, parenting, marriage, work, financial hardships - in whatever our challenge is. Whatever difficulties we face, with God's help we can take one more step.
So today, no matter what we’re facing, let’s remember that the One who is able to raise the dead is also the One who supplies our strength. And with that in mind, let’s ask Him to help us take the next step.