When It’s Hard to Persevere

For the first few months of the year, I spent most of my Sunday evenings talking to a group of women at my church about how God uses the trials and struggles in our lives to make us more useful to Him.

mount up with wings as eagles

The content of the class, which largely grew out of my years in the wilderness, has been simmering in my mind and heart for a long time. At the outset, the thought of writing 10 hour-long lessons was a bit intimidating because I had never done anything like that before. But I had what I felt like was a clear calling from God, along with friends and family members who were committed to praying for me. So although I knew it would be a challenge, I was excited about doing it.

I expected the class to be a lot of work. I expected that some of my usual activities would be put on hold as I concentrated on writing the lessons. I even expected a bit of spiritual opposition here and there.

What I did not expect, however, was that I would be thrown for a loop on a near-weekly basis by unforeseen and somewhat disruptive developments.

For example:

• For the first and only time in 22 years of marriage and almost 14 years of parenting, someone in my house was diagnosed with Influenza A—the sickness that the flu shot is supposed to prevent.

• My minivan started making a noise that got steadily worse. It needed a new wheel bearing—a rather routine fix—that eventually required three trips to the repair shop.

• Older daughter Lilly came down with tendonitis in her foot, which resulted in a two-month break from her beloved ballet class. Then younger daughter Molly fell down the back porch steps and fractured her foot. The doctor appointments that ensued resulted in one daughter in a cast and the other wearing a boot for three solid weeks.

• One Thursday morning, a friend called to tell me that new boundaries our local school district was considering potentially could send the girls to a high school across town (instead of the one we can practically see from our street). The school board later chose another option, but the idea was enough to upset my equilibrium for a few days.

• There was even a stretch of time in there where we didn’t get our daily newspaper for more than a week. As insignificant as that sounds, the annoyance it caused just added to my frustration level.

Caring for sick and injured children, taking the car to the shop, tracking down missing newspapers and even attending school boundary meetings are all part of my job as mom and house manager. These things aren’t interruptions to my work; they ARE my work. And normally, I just take what each day comes and try to make the best of it.

But what made this stream of little disturbances exponentially worse was what happening to me internally. As the weeks of the class went on, I started to feel foggy brained, stressed out, exhausted, overwhelmed and—at times—completely stuck.

Ironically, this was exactly how I used to feel back in the wilderness. This time, though, there was no plausible physical explanation for my mental and emotional funk. Instead, it seemed I had become a metaphor for much of my class material.

I thoroughly enjoyed teaching on Sunday nights. But Monday mornings would often find me feeling depressed and wanting to quit. I doubted myself and my ability to teach. I questioned my fitness to address the hard topics. I wondered if what I was experiencing was spiritual warfare, and then promptly wondered what made me think my meager efforts warranted such interference.

I was a mess. But along the way, I was also bolstered by the prayers and encouragement of kind people, as well as a specific set of instructions from a most unlikely scriptural source.

It just so happened that my Bible-reading plan placed me smack-dab in the middle of Kings and Chronicles during that time. One especially discouraging week, I arrived at 1 Chronicles 28, where David is commissioning Solomon to build the temple.

After telling his son to serve God with a “whole heart and a willing mind,” David says this: “Realize now that the Lord has chosen you to build a house for the sanctuary. Be strong, and do it” (1 Chronicles 28:10).

That last sentence bounced off the page and made a beeline for my weary heart.

Don’t sit around waiting for the fog to clear. Be strong and do it.

Don’t worry about the opposition. Be strong and do it.

The distractions and frustrations aren’t going to stop. Be strong and do it.

I kept reading to the end of the chapter, where I found this:

Then David said to his son Solomon, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He won’t leave you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the Lord’s house is finished” (I Chronicles 28:20).

Those words were spoken to Solomon about a specific project, but they applied to me that day, and perhaps to you now.

Maybe we don’t feel strong at all. (I usually don’t.) And maybe that’s on purpose.

First Corinthians 12:10 puts it bluntly: “When I am weak, then I am strong.”

Call it irony. Call it paradox. I don’t care what you call it, just remember it.

God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness.

His grace is sufficient.

He goes before us.

He is with us.

I don’t know what unexpected event, issue or struggle is throwing you for a loop and messing with your ability to do what you need to do today.

I do know this, though. You might not be able to do it alone, but you can do it.

Be strong and courageous and do the work.

Be strong and do it.

Lois Flowers

P.S. Linking up this week with Kelly Balarie at Purposeful Faith, Crystal Storms at Intentional Tuesday, Jennifer Dukes Lee at #TellHisStory, Holley Gerth at Coffee for Your Heart, Lyli Dunbar at #ThoughtProvokingThursday and Dawn Klinge at Grace & Truth.

28 Responses to When It’s Hard to Persevere

  1. Ruth Campos says:

    “I wondered if what I was experiencing was spiritual warfare, and then promptly wondered what made me think my meager efforts warranted such interference.”
    Yes, and because God was working in and through you. Your difficult experiences became a part of the story you were to share, and the word of your testimony was/is to bring Him glory!
    Thanks for sharing! You are not alone. The enemy tries to discourage many of us, and your words are an encouragement for us to hang in there and be strong through Him and complete the work that He has given us to do.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      You’re right, Ruth. I was able to add fresh, up-to-the-minute illustrations to my teaching, which hopefully made it more interesting. 🙂 More importantly, though, it showed me that the lessons I had learned in years past were still relevant, which reminded me yet again that the experiences I learned them through were not wasted. Thank you for your insights today, and many blessings to you this week!

  2. Lois,
    I love it when God gives us a timely word for what we’re facing. I’m sure you blessed the people in your class and I’m glad you persevered. The greater the opposition often means the greater the impact you were having…Praying God continues to strengthen you for His grace is sufficient. Sorry to hear about your girls…always hard when they hurt. Praying God protects and sustains you and your family as you continue to teach. Blessings 🙂

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Thanks for your encouragement, Dolly. I love it when those perfect words come at just the right time too! The class is over now and the girls are nearly all healed up, and yes, I am very thankful for God’s sustaining grace! I hope you have a refreshing week, my friend!

  3. I have those too! I can so relate with your experience. There is power in sitting in a quiet place and praying over the situation.
    It is well with you and your family, Lois.
    Many hugs and blessings to you

  4. Julie Reimers says:

    Hi Lois,
    Thank you again for this post. One of my favorite verse…..2nd Corinthians 12:10 “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” (from NASB translation).
    It’s a great verse to bring to remembrance especially when exhaustion and weariness comes to you unexpectedly.
    God is great all the time. You are one of His powerful instrument to bring to remembrance His words of healing and restoration to a weary worker!
    Proverbs 11: 16a “A gracious woman attains honor….”and :19a “He who is steadfast in righteousness will attain to life.”

    Love & Prayers,

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Hi Julie … it’s good to hear from you. I was just thinking of you and your family before I got this because I was putting pictures of you all in a photo album Lilly and I are making for Mom. 🙂 I’m praying that God’s grace sustains and strengthens you today!

  5. Oh, Lois, the battle is real. And it’s amazing how the little things can throw us for the biggest loop. But I think for me it’s because I think I can face them on my own because it is in Christ alone I have the strength.
    Standing with you as you press through, friend.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Thank you, Crystal! I often try to face these things on my own too, but I think maybe I was desperate enough not to try that route this time! And who knows … maybe that was the whole point! 🙂

  6. Hi Lois,
    We’re neighbors at Coffee for your Heart today. Loved reading this today! It’s so true how little irritations can add up and totally throw us off balance (let alone your girls’ foot injuries at the same time!) and make us feel as if we’re back to someplace we’d left ago. How inspiring that you agreed to teach the class and then worked your way through this time, discovering new truths in the process. Enjoyed these inspiring words!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      You describe what happened very well, Valerie. I think being back in that place definitely increased my empathy as I was teaching. And all the weird stuff that was happening made for some good class illustrations, so that was sort of helpful, I guess! Thank you for your encouraging words today!

  7. Christi Gee says:

    I savored every word of this like it was a sweet treat. Substitute different challenges and it was like reading my own story before I spoke at a women’s retreat earlier this year.

    Foggy brain, becoming a metaphor for your material, and oh! ~ the spiritual warfare question and immediate, “who do you think you are?” type dismissal. Yes, just yes.

    Seeing you place words on the screen that described my journey was surreal and encouraging all at the same time.

    You do that often, dear friend. Thank you for continually using your life to encourage and point us toward the next step on the journey.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      You do the same for me, Christi, though in much more creative ways than I could ever hope to produce! 🙂 Isn’t it interesting that you experienced that “who do you think you are?” reaction too? I’m so thankful that the battle is not ours, and that Truth always supersedes the lies. Have a blessed day, my friend!

  8. Trudy says:

    Such an encouraging post and verses, Lois. A picture of spiritual warfare. But God has proved it again that His strength becomes perfect in our weakness and He is infinitely stronger than the enemy. Blessings and hugs to you!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Yes, Trudy … greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world. I told myself that quite often during those weeks, and I’m so thankful for it still! Blessings, friend!

      • Trudy says:

        “Greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world!” Yes! You have reminded me of the song “Greater” by MercyMe. 🙂 My husband and I love that song, and it has encouraged us often. 🙂 Thank you.

  9. Brenda says:

    Goodness, Lois, you’ve had quite a season of unrest, haven’t you? Prayers for your daughters. Foot things are hard…I mean, we take for granted our feet! So glad you’re pressing through and recognizing the enemy’s plans are to sink you before you can make a kingdom difference. Prayers for you as you continue to follow through with this class. ((grace upon grace))

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Yes, it certainly was an interesting season, Brenda. I made it all the way through to the last week without any kind of sickness or injury, than came down with a horrendous cold! But God was faithful and I learned so much from doing the class! Thank you for your kind words today!

  10. Kim H says:

    I am one who greatly appreciated your class including your stories and practical applications. As you continue to think through those 10 weeks, please remember the bouquet of flowers you were given on the last night. I hope you remember those flowers and the words of gratitude that were given with them as a beautiful symbol of a work well done!! You are appreciated!!!!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Thank you, Kim! I’m so glad we were able to schedule the class before you moved … having you there was so important and encouraging to me (even if a lot of what we talked about wasn’t new to you). Yes, I definitely will remember those flowers and all the kind words … every one a treasure!

  11. Linda Stoll says:

    Oh, so like the enemy to try to get his foot in the door when we’re doing something effective for God.

    I thank Him for who you are and His faithfulness to you as you ministered to this group, your family, and all of us here, Lois.

    And I, for one, would have loved to be in that Sunday evening group!

  12. Thank you for highlighting those important words. Trusting Him for strength to be strong and for “do it” kind of motivation today!

  13. Micah Maddox says:

    Be strong and do it! LOVE that! Yes! Thank you for this word today! Visiting from Kelly’s #raralinkup

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