Now Is Not The Time To Quit
A Prayer to Open Our Study
Dear Heavenly Father, we praise You for Your love for every woman in this room. We pray You would speak a clear word to us today. We call on You to help us have confidence when we would rather quit. Encourage and embolden us in the face of new challenges. We desire to be women of prayer, who trust in Your sovereign will for our lives.
We ask this In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Lesson Twelve: Grace To Keep Going
Mr. Stanley starts us off with two questions:
Learning: Is it okay for me to quit and walk away from adversity that God has
allowed in my life?
Growing: How can I benefit from God’s grace during troubles and trials?
In this our last look at dealing with adversity Mr. Stanley wants us to consider is quitting an option? He points out that our modern culture is all about perseverance. From TV commercials promoting “Just Do It” and “Never Let Them See You Sweat” to movies all about comeback heroes, we should know better than to throw in the towel. But I don’t know about you, but there have been plenty of times in my life I sure wanted to! In fact, during this study, I wanted to stop and ask if everyone would mind if I picked a new one. Looking our troubles square in the face can be a real downer.
Mr. Stanley made me feel better when he reminded me and all of us that our natural tendency is to choose to quit. We give up on New Year’s resolutions, jobs, and people. But he also said that when we are faced with adversity, we will be forced to make a choice: to quit or to keep going. You can guess he intends for us to power on, not quit. But how do we do that? Where will we find the strength?
His Grace Is Sufficient
Let’s look back at a scripture passage we have already visited earlier in our study, to hear the words of the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.
Mr. Stanley asked us after reading this to take a moment to think about everything Paul had accomplished for God’s Kingdom, about his disciples, and about how much of the New Testament he wrote through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. But yet even though he begged God to remove this thorn of flesh, God said no. Not just once, but three times. God’s answer wasn’t wait, it was a loud No. "My grace is sufficient for you, and My strength is made perfect in weakness." We sure would not have blamed Paul if he had asked-why God, haven’t I been a good Christian, don’t I go everywhere You send me? Is it too much to ask You for this little thing? Well, I’m done. But instead, Paul told us, “I am glad to boast about my weaknesses… I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Paul said I am glad to boast. I take pleasure, I am strong!
So, when we get to the end of our rope, when we feel like it’s all hopeless, that is when we need to lean on the sufficient grace of Jesus Christ. It is sufficient to cover us, sufficient to transform us, and sufficient to help us. It is sufficient to change weaknesses into strengths. The dictionary says the word sufficient means to have enough, adequate, ample, abundant, plenty. That is a tremendous gift!
Humanly speaking in my life, I have never been given sufficient anything. Let me explain: Money, I could always spend more, save more, share more. Food, I love to eat (can’t you tell) I have had a ton of food but I could always have more. Love, Joe my husband loves me (a Lot) but I could always have more from him. Have him never slip and hurt my feelings, forget an important date, or any other number of things, because he is only human and no matter how wonderful a husband he is, he can only love me as a fallen, sinful, prideful son of Adam. So, his love is and never will be sufficient for me. There will only be the money and food that there is, but Jesus’ love is sufficient for me. He paid the full price for my sinful nature. And it was plenty, and it was more than enough. I will never need any more.
Read Philippians 4:19
Our Understanding Of Grace
If Jesus will supply all our needs, how is it that we are still hurting, feeling helpless, and suffering? Mr. Stanley said if we feel that this promise isn’t true, it could be because we don’t understand grace.
Here it is: Grace is unmerited favor. It is undeserved on the part of the recipient. It is unearned and unearnable.
If I want more money, I had better get out there and get a job, a big job! If I want more food, I need to get a U-Haul truck and about a dozen freezers and fill them up! If I want more love, well I better try to be a more attentive wife or lower my expectations! Impossible, right? But the grace I have received from Jesus comes to me with no help or participation on my part. There isn’t anything that I can or need to do to receive grace, and boy, is that a good thing!
Read Hebrews 4:16, Ephesians 2:8, 2 Corinthians 6:1
God’s Grace Means We Should Never Quit
2 Corinthians tells us not to receive God’s grace in vain. A quick check in my thesaurus on the word vain took me to words like “idle, useless, futile” As coworkers in Christ there are no quitters, we can’t be useless or idle. When troubles hit us, no matter how hard the adversity is, we are to fight through it. Mr. Stanley said that if God has allowed us to experience a season of adversity, there is a reason for it. He also said, how much have you ever learned from a peaceful day, it’s from the difficult trials that we grow spiritually.
When I was young, going through surgeries and feeling just plain sick, I wanted to give in. Thankfully, my family didn’t. My sisters taught me songs about never quitting. Together we sang about a train that didn’t think he could climb mountains. But then he could, ants that could knock down rubber trees, and spiders that could withstand rain storms. My brothers taught me to get back up if I fell because there is no crying in baseball. Quitting was not an option. Of course, I am very glad that I didn’t, but at the time I wondered why I had to go through those things. I’m sure you are wondering the same thing about the troubles in your life. But Mr. Stanley gives us a very simple answer, because God doesn’t want us to be delivered.
I know that sounds harsh, but sometimes our loved ones don’t get better, and the business doesn’t bounce back. But we learn that strength comes to those who lean on God’s grace. When we allow God to raise us above all of our sadness, anger, and fear, He can transform our life in the process. While I was writing this lesson, I heard that our leading female gymnast in the Olympic games has dropped out because of mental difficulties incurred from stress. I am sure her stress is real, but she has been preparing for this opportunity for years. In fact, she has already proven that it can be done, because at the last games she won 5 gold metals. You may wonder what makes this time different? Somehow, she has lost the strength that we can tap into from Christ.
You and I can get lost in our adversity too, but God wants us to persevere. It may not look pretty, dealing with issues can make us messy, but its purpose is change and growth. In the gymnast’s case, maybe if she had tried, she wouldn’t have done her best, maybe no gold metals this year, but she would have the satisfaction of completion. She could have become a role model for other girls. When we are facing our trials, it is imposable for us to understand the point of it. I think it is because we do not yet see-through Christ’s eyes. We have not yet comprehended what He is trying to make of us. We mourn our losses like people who don’t know where they and their loved one's go after death. But that is when we are called to trust “My grace is sufficient for you, and My strength is made perfect in weakness”
Read 1 Corinthians 15:10, 2 Corinthians 4:16-17
God’s Grace Produces Confidence In Us
If I hadn’t kept trying and singing those silly motivating songs, I would not be here with you today. Learning to walk with crutches didn’t look very pretty (even after I learned) but I kept at it. Living on after my father died was painful, but here I am. Because I passed those ordeals, I know that I can face more. I know God was with me the whole time. Mr. Stanley wants us to consider Peter’s experience when he denied the Lord three times how Jesus knew and had prayed for him. Luke 22:32 says, “But I (Jesus) have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren” Jesus knew he would do the human thing, but when the time came, Peter remembered the Lord’s prayer for him and it gave him the strength to get back up and not quit. I love what Mr. Stanley said next “can you imagine the confidence Peter experienced when everything came full circle and he received forgiveness from Jesus? How Jesus’ grace ignited and empowered Peter to persevere through any difficulty…” Did you catch the last part of the prayer, Jesus didn’t just want Peter to have a full and lasting faith for just himself but for the brethren? And ladies, we are part of that brethren. That kind of strength is meant to share. To do that, we need to develop our confidence. Here are three small steps we can all do to build our confidence muscles.
1. Use Affirmations to Become More Confident: Using affirmations is one of the most underrated self-improvement techniques out there, and one of my favorites. An affirmation is simply just a statement of truth. In my case they were affirmation songs and stories about overcoming, and I still sing them when I feel like I am less than up to the task. But if songs don’t work for you, use these statements.
I have a great life, and God is working to make it better.
I deserve God’s love, and the things that are going on in my life are not punishments, but opportunities.
I am a child of God, and because of that I know that He has a plan for my life.
Read Philippians 1:6, 2 Corinthians 5:7
2. Focus on Small Daily Accomplishments to Build Consistency: You cannot change yourself and build self-confidence all at once. It still takes time, no matter how hard you try. In that case, you should work smart, not hard. Small improvements daily can have tremendous results in the long term. Improving 1% every day means you are improving 7.2% per week, 36.1% per month, and 3778.3% per year! This is exactly why I think focus and consistency outperforms hard work.
Pray with praise, thanksgiving, and confession as you seek God’s will for your life.
Cherish the desires God gives you, accept the challenges He sends.
Congratulate yourself for your faith growth.
Read 2 Corinthians 4:8-10
3. Know When to Ask For Help to Get Advice: Knowing when to ask for help may seem counter intuitive at first. How can needing help be a confidence builder? Part of self-confidence is knowing your current limitations, not just your strengths. Failure to do so may make you overconfident.
Call other Christian friends or your pastor and ask them to pray for you.
Join a Bible study group, so you can hear God’s word and learn more about Him.
Ask God to fill you with the Holy Spirit and with His desire. Surrender yourself completely to Him.
Read Proverbs 2:6, 1 Chronicles 16:11
God’s Grace Keeps Our Eyes On The Father
Mr. Stanley said that God’s grace keeps our eyes on the Father, but how does that work when adversity seems so personal? They are our problems, right? One of my favorite hymns urges us to “Turn your eyes upon Jesus; Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of Earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace.” It’s a beautiful sentiment. But how are we supposed to do that? Let’s continue use Peter for our example. He actually saw Jesus—with his natural eyes—walking on water. He asked Jesus to call him out onto the waves, and when Jesus did, Peter walked on water—until he was distracted by the storm raging around him. But what about us? How do we “turn our eyes upon Jesus?” I don’t think it’s all that different from Peter’s experience:
1) Ask for help from Jesus.
Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” (Matthew 14:28) When we are in a difficult or traumatic situation, we need to ask for Jesus to come to us. Prayer connects us to Jesus. So, ask Him to help you turn your gaze on Him.
Read Psalm 121:1-8
2) Turn away from your circumstances.
As Peter found out, you can’t “turn your eyes upon Jesus” and simultaneously watch the wind and waves. So, turn away from your circumstances. Stop fixating on your problems or the day’s newscast. Give it a rest. Or, rather, give yourself a rest from the things that stir up anxious thoughts.
Read Psalm 91:1-16
3) Close your eyes and focus.
Maybe you’ve been driving in the car, the radio blaring, when you wanted to be careful not to miss a turn or spot an address. What did you do? You turned off the radio! It may seem silly to some, but you knew that fewer distractions equals more focus and vision. That is how it is when you turn your eyes upon Jesus. Close our eyes and we can see Him more clearly. Slow down and we’ll find Him more quickly. Seek Him with the eyes of our heart, allowing Him time to enter your vision, and the things of the earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.
Read Isaiah 26:3
Thank you for choosing to join me on this journey through adversity. We started during the pandemic and have finished as hopefully the world is coming back to normal. During this time some of us lost loved ones, some of us lost our income, some of us lost our own health, but it is my prayer that your walk with Jesus is deeper, that your faith is stronger, and that you have the tools to you need to help you face and overcome your adversities. We can not live as the world lives, we must live as children of God, and place our faith in the One who has overcome!
We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me” For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. (Romans 15:1-4)
Charles Stanley wants us to consider these thoughts:
Today and Tomorrow
Today: God’s grace is fully available to me in the moment of my need.
Tomorrow: I will be aware of my desire to quit and I will choose, with God’s help, to keep going.
Closing Prayer, Charles Stanley,
Heavenly Father, we pray today for those who are going through all kinds of adversity. Help us to truly understand the depths of Your grace and know that it is sufficient for whatever problem or crisis that we are facing. Help us to receive by faith that You always have a purpose for the trials we endure- and help us to never quit but to keep on pursuing You in the midst of them. We want to be submissive, willing, and yielded to Your will. We want Your great purpose to be manifest in our lives today. We pray this in Jesus’ name and for His sake, Amen.