By Dr. Robert Curtis
I was reminded by a preacher friend a few years ago that “ministry is not for the faint of heart.” Those words are so true. Ministry and life in general can be challenging. We are confronted with blessings and burdens, sometimes within minutes of each other. Those who minister are looked upon as being examples, sometimes with a mindset by others that our lives are perfect, that we always have everything in place spiritually, financially, physically, and emotionally. The truth is that all ministers and people in general, are still sinners saved by grace, imperfect vessels, people who need to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ (2 Peter 3:18).
How are we to remain “steadfast” throughout life no matter what? How are we not to “lose heart” at times? While many scriptures are relevant, I want to focus on Hebrews 12:1-3. In this passage, we are reminded that we have many examples of those who were anchored by bible faith (see Hebrews 11). The writer reminds us that we have a “great cloud of witnesses (a group who attest to the truth of the matter) surrounding us…” (12:1) Here, the writer lays out the difference between our Position in Christ (Union with Christ) and our practice (Communion with Christ) in life. While our union with Christ is perfect and permanent, and while it is our stability in life, our communion with Christ can fluctuate, depending on how we respond to the circumstances that confront us. He calls us to “run with endurance…” The truth of the matter is that we are responsible for how we “run the race.” We must look at that “encumbrance” or that “sin that so easily entangles (encircles) us” and actively and intentionally, “lay it aside.” While His “divine power has granted us everything pertaining to life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who has called us by His own glory and excellence” (2 Peter 1:3), we must apply that “divine power” in our daily lives. How do we do so? Let me offer some suggestions:
- We must keep our eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2) That means that He must be our daily fixation. He must be the focal point of our pleasure, our desire, our purpose. John Piper has said it best, “God is most glorified in us (which is our purpose in life [Isaiah 43:7, 1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:17]) when we are most satisfied in Him.” This will be the primary way in which we will not “grow weary” or “lose heart.”
- We must be people who pray. (Luke 18:1) When we pray, we are expressing our total dependence upon Him. Robert Murray M’Cheyne put it this way: What a man is on his knees before God, that he is, and nothing more.”
- We must continually remind ourselves that we are the recipients of His “mercy” 2 Corinthians 4:1). This will keep us from “losing heart” (losing our courage to press on) in life and in ministry.
- We must rely on His daily grace. By doing so, we live “above our circumstances;” we are delivered from worry and anxiety (Matthew 6:34, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10))
- We must live our lives anchored in biblical hope. (Hebrews 6:19) A number of years ago, I heard Dr. Tom Elliff give a definition of biblical hope that has stayed with me and guided me in the best and in the worst of times. He said the following: “Biblical hope is the confident assurance that what God has promised, God will do.” That definition encourages me to go hard for God as it shows that His promises of provision and protection are true. It causes me to guard my life as well in that He will “discipline those that He loves” and that means He will judge sin in my life as well.
The apostle Paul reminds us to be “steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15:58). If you are in Christ, you will endure (John 10:28-30; Romans 8:35-39). I encourage you to memorize and practice Proverbs 3:5-6. Trust Him with all of your heart. Trust Him when you don’t understand what is happening. Seek to make Him your priority in life and for life. Trust Him to direct your steps and your decisions. Do not lose heart. You belong to Him. As Dr. Charles Stanley has said, “Disappointments are inevitable. Discouragement is a choice.” Friend, realize that disappointments will come, no matter how closely you walk with God. But also remember that by God’s grace and for God’s glory, you don’t have to become discouraged or lose heart. God bless you. Keep pressing on. Remember, as you seek to obey Him daily, that “it is God who is at work in you both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13). Rest in that truth. Rejoice in that truth. Live in the sphere of that truth.
Bob Curtis is the pastor of New Prospect Baptist Church in Olive Branch, Mississippi and will be speaking at the Founders Midwest Conference 2020 in St. Louis, MO. If you would like to attend the Southern Baptist Founders Conference Midwest and hear Dr. Curtis speak be sure to check out our Facebook page or visit our website for more information.