Pierce, my eight year old brother, is going through the stage of his life where he becomes anxious during the times when our parents aren't around. This past week my parents went on a vacation and were gone for four days. The day they left, Pierce came to me and asked, "Collin, when you were younger and mom and dad went on vacation. How did you make it through?" After thinking a bit, I looked him in the eyes and I told him that our mom and dad would give me a prize to look forward to when they came back so that I would think about the prize instead of the anxious time I was going through. I then told him that, if he could make it through the days that our parents were gone, I'd take him to get some ice cream. His face lit up and I could tell that he was already starting to feel better and was ready to take his anxieties head on.
Just like a trip to get ice cream gave my youngest brother hope and something to look forward to, so too does the prize that God offers us at the end of our days here on earth. Philippians 3:14 says, "I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us." Paul was sharing with the Philippians that, although he had not reached perfection (verse 12), he was choosing to focus on "forgetting the past and looking forward to what [lied] ahead" (verse 13).
There is no doubt that you will go through hard times that will test your spiritual endurance, but how do you respond to these times? Do you focus on the hope you have in Christ? Or do you allow the evil one to make you feel worthless? Because we live in a sinful world, it is easy to become discouraged when trying to live our lives for Christ. We may begin to feel that what we have to offer for Christ is not worth anything or that we are not usable by Him. Although there will be times when you will feel like you've lost all stamina and you want to give up, take time to focus on the hope you have through Jesus Christ. For "though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever." (2 Corinthians 4:16b-18)