Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Be Strong... Do Not Be Afraid!

“When the going gets tough,” the old platitude says, “the tough get going.” But one has to wonder, what exactly do the ‘tough’ have (or need) in their quest to do what is tough?
We all have tough work to do from time to time. This word, below, is timely for those with tough work coming fast on the horizon:
The Lord, through the prophet, Haggai:
“Does anyone remember this house—this Temple—in its former splendor? How, in comparison, does it look to you now? It must seem like nothing at all! But now the Lord says: Be strong, Zerubbabel. Be strong, Jeshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people still left in the land. And now get to work, for I am with you, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. My Spirit remains among you, just as I promised when you came out of Egypt. So do not be afraid.”
— Haggai 2:3-5 (NLT)
When it’s work that’s ahead of us, and particularly relational work i.e. conflict, it’s not only daunting, like building the temple was in Haggai’s day, we might easily shrink from the fullest portion of the task. Apathy, discouragement, and a loss of vision are key dissuaders of journeying onto completion. Starting things is always easier than finishing them.
But there are also distractions from the core work that God’s will dictates we need to do:
The necessary, the immediate, the urgent,
Get all the attention — not the Important.
Now, today, rebuild the Temple of the Lord,
Ensure the Important is what gets explored.
The Important is the obeying of God’s holy vision,
To get way beyond the enemy’s division,
“Be strong... be strong... Do not be afraid,”
Don’t let apathy or fear be the things that are obeyed!
It is too easy to run from real work; the ardour of tenacity, courage, and valour. We all want a comfortable life, but we often don’t realise that the most comfortable life is afforded as a reward for having dealt with the uncomfortable things. There’s an enigma in such a paradox.
Work is what it is. Doing it properly requires diligence, patience, faithfulness, attention to detail, strength, and courage. And relationships are work. Actually, most work is in the maintaining of relationships and in the addressing of crises.
Given that we all have some annoying traits of unfinished business, and much of what we have in common are relational conflicts and emotional baggage, the message is clear: Be strong... do not be afraid... of doing what is so different. If it’s patience we lack, we ask God. If we need self-control, we know who to ask. If it’s courage we are low on, we seek God through prayer and then we do it.
Persistence pays. Persevering through a dire task or faithfully sticking to a difficult process relationally reaps worthy rewards.
When we have difficult and arduous work to do, we ought to remind ourselves that we have God’s very Presence; his unfailing love. The Lord sustains us when we are ready to quit.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

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