Giving up! No way! It is said that the late Sir Winston Churchill who, when invited to speak at a school’s prize-giving, stood up and said “Never give up! Never give up! Never give up!” (or words to that effect) and sat down again. Wow!
This spirit of real determined resistance, courage and perseverance, even in the face of what seemed to be crushing odds, is also a strength of the Judeo-Christian tradition. In the Old Testament we read of ordinary, frail individuals who were also people of great faith. People like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, Jeremiah, Daniel and many others who experienced great suffering and opposition: yet refused to give up. Through their faith the Faith has endured and been passed on down thousands of years.
In the New Testament Jesus Christ is the unmatched example of perseverance, of not ‘giving up’. As Paul put it to the Philippians in ch 2:8 “he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!” and in Heb. 12: 1-3 we are encouraged to:
“throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and …run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart”.
So, no ‘giving up’! But if we feel like throwing the towel in let’s look for help and support. We are told in 1 Peter 5: 7 to throw our worries, and concerns on God, to put ourselves in God’s hands and ask for his help. We are reminded that no matter what we may face or have to cope with we will always be given the strength to bear it.
If, reading this, you feel near the ‘end of your tether’, close to ‘giving up’, please don’t, do ask for help – from God, from those close to you, from any relevant experts or authorities. We need each other and one of the main reasons for church, is supporting, encouraging and helping each other, carrying each other’s burdens, forgiving and loving each other.
So no ‘giving up’, no surrender, but, as Hebrews 12:1-3 suggested, and as we remember now in Lent and moving through Holy Week and Easter, there may be things that we need to ‘give up’. Things that impede us, weigh us down, hold us back; bad habits, wrong attitudes or behaviour, un-admitted, un-faced, un-confessed problems or mistakes, unhealthy priorities – all these we are told to ‘give up’, renounce, turn away from and leave behind. It is truly amazing the freedom we will find when we walk away from stuff that is clogging up.
Instead, for everything that has no place in our lives that we ‘give up’ there are things we are encouraged to ‘take up’. For priority, inspiration and guidance we are told to ‘fix our eyes on Jesus’; for our minds we are told in Phil. 4:7 to think about things that are ‘lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy’; and to look for role models to Jesus, and those who follow him faithfully, people we trust to walk with us and help us to grow.
In Romans 13:12 Paul talked of throwing away the actions connected with darkness and evil and put on what he described as the Armour of Light. Peter writing in chapter 1 of his second letter gave a long list of good things that we are to add to our faith: goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, kindness, love. As we ‘give up’ wrong and unhelpful ways and ‘take up’ spiritually healthy and positive things, and most of all as we look to Jesus to lead, guide and inspire us, we will become ever more certain of never ‘giving up’.
With all my love, support and dedication.