A certain soldier and some men from his troop were attacked in battle. While they managed to defeat their enemy, they were beat up and many were badly injured. Without communication to their base, they knew that they were miles away and that they would have many hours walking in miserable, blistering heat across really rough terrain. His comrades began to feel a broken hopelessness and almost gave up, asking to be left behind. They felt that they couldn’t go on. The soldier, even though he too was suffering, marched ahead with a sense of hope and kept encouraging his comrades to persevere. Though the journey was arduous, they finally made it to the base.
Later, when asked how they managed to make it through, the man replied, “I just kept looking forward, finding little landmarks that I could set my mind upon. I kept telling myself that if we could just make it to that rock, we will be okay. When I made it to the rock, I saw in the distance a tree and I said to myself that if we could just make it to that tree, we will be okay.”
Whatever you want to change, change. You can do it. It can be a long journey, but set your eyes on tomorrow, saying to yourself, “If I can get through this day until tomorrow, I’ll be okay.” And when tomorrow comes, do it again. Keep your heart set on the goal, but your eyes fixed on the landmarks as you move toward true repentant change.
There may be moments where you feel as though you just don’t have the strength to carry on, when one more step seems nearly impossible. When you feel discouraged and defeated, cast your cares upon God, and trust with the simple childlike faith that he will sustain you as he makes a way for you to take that next step. You may find yourself at your absolute worst and in the lowest, darkest place possible—when you simply cannot do it on your own. As Peter says in in 1 Peter 5:7, “Turn all your anxiety over to God because he cares for you.” And take comfort in the promise given just a few verses later (1 Peter 5:10-11): “God, who shows you kindness and who has called you through Christ Jesus to his eternal glory, will restore you, strengthen you, make you strong, and support you as you suffer for a little while. Power belongs to him forever.”
God gives a wonderfully hopeful promise in Joshua 1:9 when he says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Sometimes it seems impossible to not get discouraged; life presents incredible challenges from time to time. But take comfort in knowing that Jesus himself told us “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:27) He wants to help you not only see the next landmark in the distance, but also to help carry you there.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) There’s no ambiguity in his words. He doesn’t say he might give you rest, or if you work really hard and prove yourself, he’ll consider giving you rest. No, he says if you are burdened and weary, ask him for help and he will provide. His promises are not empty and his word does not return void. The hardest part is humbling yourself to admit you need him, that you probably cannot do it on your own, and that you want him to get you over the hill to where you need to be.
In the story “The Little Engine that Could,” the engine was asked by his conductor if it thought it could pull a heavy train up over a steep hill. As the engine began its journey and rolled toward its arduous ascent, it kept repeating to itself, I…think…I…can…I…think…I…can” over and over again until it reached the top. When it began its decent from the pinnacle of the hill, its rhythmic motto reshaped itself into “I thought I could. I thought I could.”
Who the story leaves out is the one was driving the engine, guiding it and pushing it forward. In times of trouble, when you’re struggling to make it from step to step, from landmark to landmark, and to the top of the hill, keep repeating to yourself, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13) Don’t think you can—believe that he will. And by that, you certainly can.
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