9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Have you ever given up on something? Have you ever hung in there, and hung in there, then getting no results just quit? It was too difficult, required too much effort, too many financial resources, and you decided it was not worth it any more. I think we have all gone through something like that.
J.K. Rowling was just divorced, was on government aid, and could barely afford to feed her baby in 1994, just three years before the first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone, was published. When she was looking for publishers, she was so poor she couldn’t afford a computer or even the cost of photocopying the 90,000-word novel, so she manually typed out each version to send to submit. It was rejected dozens of times until finally Bloomsbury, a small London publisher, gave it a second chance after the CEO’s eight-year-old daughter fell in love with it.
History gives us numerous stories of people who wouldn’t quit. I will even go so far as to say that anyone who has succeeded at anything - from building a business empire to riding a bicycle, from learning to speak to publishing a book – did so partially because they just didn’t quit.
Our culture offers excellent teachings about this quality of perseverance. It is important to us: Thomas Foxwell Buston said: With ordinary talent and extraordinary perseverance, all things are attainable. Dr. Suess is credited for, “When the world says, "Give up," Hope whispers, "Try it one more time."
Although he is often quoted differently, Winston Churchill gave a speech Harrow School, October 29, 1941, in which he said, "Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense."
Then there is a Buddhist saying: If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking.
In our lives we have many opportunities. We often rank them in our minds as to how much we like doing them, and then choose which to pursue. The challenge with this is that our viewpoints are so narrow, we may only choose to do things that are easy and fun but are of no earthly or spiritual good. Yet we spend hours, if not years, pursuing them.
In addition to doing worthless things, we occasionally start things that, after careful consideration, we judge to be unworthy of our time, or we don’t like it, or it is too hard, or does not bring us the recognition we desire, and the list goes on. Ralph Waldo Emerson stated: The great majority of men are bundles of beginnings.
One of the most difficult things for us to discern is the difference between what needs to be done and what we want to do; what is the right thing to do and the convenient thing to do. In many cases, these two ideas are far apart in distance. Sadly, we usually have more energy for the things that we like to do and that are convenient and grow listless at the thought of doing important, necessary, worthy, and right things.
Once we find an opportunity to do good, to do the right thing, to help and serve people in a manner that resonates with our hearts, then the challenge is to develop the perseverance to stay the course. Perseverance is the continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition. Galatians 6:9-10 tells us, “We must not become tired of doing good. We will receive our harvest of eternal life at the right time if we do not give up.” We must persevere in doing good.
I truly believe that God wishes to express through us massively, in the only way that He can, and that is as us. God wants to express into Creation through us as us. When we are doing what our heart tells us is right, that is Spirit’s whisper becoming expression. When we run into obstacles, God helps us grow stronger, more educated, more skilled, and enables us to adapt to whatever the changing conditions require.
When we are facing in the direction of God, then all we need to do is keep walking, keep doing what we are doing, and listening for God’s guidance in case there is a change. This path of God may take us through some troubled territory, some challenging situations, up steep mountains, and we may become fatigued and weary. When we become weary the body may grow tired, but if we are doing God’s good, the heart will always persevere. Rest the body, keep the heart and mind on God’s plan, and after our respite we keep going.
It is important to keep going because despite how tired we are while doing God’s work, our biggest blessing is just around the corner. “…For at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” When we chase God’s good, God’s good is forthcoming. It may be delayed, but it is on its way. If we become discouraged, frustrated, and perplexed, remember the wisdom of Georges-Louis Leclerc: “Never think that God's delays are God's denials. Hold on; hold fast; hold out. Patience is genius.”
There are times when we ought to give up, like when our ego is directing our efforts, and not Spirit. Or when we find ourselves trying to solve problems that only God can solve. We cannot enlighten the hearts and minds of others, and it is a waste of time to try. We should give up trying to bear loads that are Christ’s alone. We are told in Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” We allow God to work through us, but not take on the job ourselves.
When we find that we are working against God, it is time to give up. When we are doing anything which we shouldn’t, we are fighting against God, whether it is thinking, acting, or speaking ill of someone. When we are not loving someone, we are acting against God, and it’s time to give it up and back off.
When we are using our spiritual gifts for our own selfish gain, and are taking advantage of others, we ought to give it up. Our gifts are intended to honor and glorify God, not our egos. It is equally antagonistic to God to not use the gifts we have been given. We need to give up our fears, reluctance, and laziness.
Ecclesiastes 3 tells us that “there is a time to search, and a time to give up.” When we are doing God’s will, no matter how much we feel like giving up, we must persevere. But, when we are not doing God’s will, no matter how much we feel like continuing our current path, it is time to give up.
The letters to God that we wrote at the beginning of the year, the New Year’s resolutions that we promise ourselves, and the secret wishes we desire and could change about ourselves, are some of the good that God wants to bless us with and express through us. Some of our good will come through God’s wonderful Grace; some will come from a co-creative effort with God through us. We must do our part. We persevere and stay the course, and we will when we decide to follow the whispers of God’s guidance.
There will come a moment, when we decide to move forward or not, to quit or keep going. There will come a moment when we either stand with God or we stand with our fears, doubts, and ego. There will come a moment when we decide we will become all God intended for us to be, or we will shrink into the limitations of what the world says we can be.
This is a Holy Moment, where we acknowledge our collaboration with Christ and stop forcing our will onto the situation. There are times when God whispers, “Enough, Patrick. Enough of your taking control. Please, allow me.”
After spending time with God in the quiet of prayer, and we feel it is God’s Will to continue then we need to persevere, become resolved and committed. To me, this is the meaning of “With God, all things are possible.” That verse doesn’t mean that God is going to materialize everything we need. What it means to me is that God IS perseverance. God says “Yes! Get it done. Get up and go again.” Our egos counter obstinately with “No!” What we don’t realize is that we might be saying “No” to profound goodness from God. But with God’s help we will continue until we have reached the goal God has placed within us.
However, after prayerful contemplation, if we decide it is time to quit, then release it and never regret the decision. God has already made other plans of sublime good for us.
There was a time when I had gone to Germany to audition for opera houses. The audition time was from September to January. I only had money to stay from October to November. I hadn’t been given any jobs, so I returned home. I quit my pursuit of this goal and felt like a failure. My ego was redeemed when the next summer I returned to do a concert with my teacher and was told at least one opera house was going to offer me a position. But what would my life look like if I had become an opera singer? Certainly not a minister. Not the same relationship I have with Mary today or our kids. God has blessed me abundantly with His good since making that decision.
While still in these bodies, our good may arrive at any moment. In this next instant the peace, love, joy, power, abundance, Light, and Life of God can come pouring into us and through us. It is my prayer that we persevere doing what is right, doing good, until we are ready, receptive, and responsive to all of God’s abundant and sublime blessings.