Grit is living life like it’s a marathon and not a sprint.Angela Duckworth
Marathoner or Sprinter
One thing to be sure of is that I know very little about running. I am neither a marathoner nor a sprinter. While many members of my family enjoy running, I do not. Running is something that I have consistently avoided since I was a child. However, because I have shared life with more than one runner, I know about the consistency and determination it takes to succeed at running a marathon. Daily running schedules despite lousy weather, special shoes, and even diets designed to maximize stamina. Ultimately, preparing to run a marathon requires a runner not to quit.
Popular church culture teaches believers all about joy and abundance. Life as a believer can be portrayed as an endless array of positive affirmations and exercises in counting blessings. An expectation is set for a blessed and abundant life of ease for all who claim Christ.
But what happens when it doesn’t go that way? Please note that I used the word when not if.
Sooner or later, everyone who follows Jesus will experience disappointment. Eventually, many slam into the concrete wall of devastating loss and betrayal. What about the faithful wife whom her spouse betrays? The congregation who learns about their pastor’s secret life with waves of damaging revelation? The adult child who grows up with abuse inside his or her Christian family? What about the stage 4 cancer diagnosis that is not healed this side of Heaven?
In the Psalms, believers navigate times of disappointment, depression, and fear. Grit is required and starts with praise.
Choosing grit requires that I start with praising God.
In Psalm 30, King David begins with a huge praise report about how the Lord saved his life.
1 I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up and have not let my foes rejoice over me. 2 O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me. 3 O Lord, you have brought up my soul from Sheol; you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit. 4 Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. 5 For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. (Psalm 30:1-5 ESV)
Setbacks and Sadness
David begins with praise but rapidly moves to the reality of setbacks and sadness. David failed God many times, and his failures hurt his family members.
Choosing grit gives me room to acknowledge sadness and setbacks.
From time to time, my heart will be broken by the brokenness of this world. I will also see my flaws and how I fail those I love. Yet, each time I experience sadness, anger, or bitterness, I can cling to the idea that this shall pass. God promises us new mercies each day. Weeping may stick around for a season, but joy will come again and again.
6 As for me, I said in my prosperity, “I shall never be moved.” 7 By your favor, O Lord, you made my mountain stand strong; you hid your face; I was dismayed. (Psalm 30:6-7 ESV)
In January, I often find myself making new year’s resolutions to commit to new patterns of behavior or to give up something that needs to go. Like David, I might claim, “I shall never be moved.” Unfortunately, in times of abundance, it is all too easy to over-promise what I believe I can do in my strength.
Also, like David, I become discouraged and dismayed within a very short time. I lose sight of the Lord when I become distracted by my agenda without His input. It can seem that the Lord hid from me, but it is much more likely that I stopped looking for Him or listening for His voice to guide me.
Choosing grit requires me to refocus on the Lord.
8 To you, O Lord, I cry, and to the Lord I plead for mercy: 9 “What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness? 10 Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me! O Lord, be my helper!” (Psalm 30:8-10 ESV)
Sometimes when life feels unbearable, I can move to “worst-case scenario thinking.” David may have found himself there. When I become this discouraged, I might even try bargaining with the Lord.
Please rescue me so I can praise You.
Please do this so that I can do that for You.
While I can cry out to God to help me, trying to persuade Him to act by suggesting He needs me is laughable.
The Lord Almighty does not need me to do anything for Him. He does not respond to me trying to negotiate a deal. Instead, he calls me to surrender my agenda and commit to His. This will be ongoing work for me on this side of eternity. I must ask the Lord to help me to develop true grit to persist in seeking Him daily and, possibly, hourly. I need to surrender to His will.
11 You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, 12 that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever! (Psalm 30:11-12 ESV)
True grit is true surrender.
A deep and abiding joy comes out of complete surrender. God will provide joy for those who persist in surrendering daily, hourly, or even from one minute to the next. The Christian life requires grit and determination to keep on and finish well.
Prayer for Times of Sadness
Thank You, Lord, for turning my mourning into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness. May I sing Your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever! In Jesus’ name. Amen
(Psalm 30:11-12 ESV)