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Don’t Give In or Give Up on Faith

13 Mar

“Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” The quote is attributed to both Coach Vince Lombardi and General George S. Patton, Jr.

While I don’t know who said it first, I can affirm the truth of the statement. On several occasions, I have been ready to quit the ministry and become a ride operator at Disneyland. It was never because the task was too hard, the critics too loud, or people were unresponsive. It was usually because I was weary, tired, and spent. When I am weary and worn out, I am susceptible to discouragement. When I am fatigued, I can act cowardly.

When your problems seem too big, and you are ready to cash in your chips and run away, would it help you to know that Jesus is praying for you? Would that knowledge help you to run your race with greater endurance?

Mark 14:27-31 records a conversation between Jesus and his disciples on the road from Jerusalem to Gethsemane. Luke 22:31-34 tells of a conversation that takes place in the upper room. Both contain Jesus’ instructions about how to face trials. Tying these passages together, we receive the encouragement: When you face trials, remember that Jesus is praying for you. Don’t give in or give up on faith. Stand firm.

When trials come, remember that they are filtered through the hands of God. Some trials are ordained by God (Mark 14:27). Some trials are permitted by God (Luke 22:31). Some trials are self-inflicted, the natural consequences of sinful choices (Romans 1:18-32). God uses trials as a catalyst to help us grow (Romans 5:3-5; James 1:2-4). Trials ultimately result in greater glory (Romans 8:17).

Knowing that God is in control during our trials is a comforting thought. It helps us to respond appropriately when the trials come. Jesus warned Peter and the Twelve, and us as well, so that we would not fall away (Mark 14:27), deny our faith (Mark 14:30), or depend on our own strength and pride to get us through difficult times (Mark 14:29, 31).

The knowledge that Jesus is praying for us during our trials (Luke 22:32) will help us to stand firm rather than give in or give up. It is fascinating to note what Jesus does not pray. He doesn’t tell Peter he denied Satan’s request to sift Peter. He doesn’t say that he prayed God would remove Peter from the trial, that he would make it bearable, or that the Father wouldn’t give him more than he could handle. Jesus said, “…but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail.” Jesus prayed not only that Peter would survive the trial, but that he would come through it stronger in the end. Jesus prayed that Peter’s faith would come through with flying colors.

When trials come, remember that they are filtered through God’s hands. Don’t give in or give up. Remember that Jesus is praying for you. Rely on him to keep your faith strong.

When you come through the trial, return and follow Jesus (Mark 14:28) and help others who are coming after you (Luke 22:32). Failure is not fatal. While Peter deserted and denied Jesus, he was later restored and used greatly to help others. Peter leads the disciples after the ascension (Acts 1:15-26), preaches on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14-20), leads the church in Jerusalem (Acts 3-5), and helps expand the church to Samaria (Acts 8:14-25) and to the Gentiles (Acts 10-11, 15).

When trials come and they will, remember that Jesus is praying for you. Don’t give in or give up on faith. Stand firm.

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Baptist Church in Chicopee, MA, on March 13, 2016. It is part of a series in the Gospel of Mark. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.

 

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