Craig Groeschel - When You Feel Like Giving Up
I wanna talk to those of you today who feel like quitting, maybe you feel like throwing in the towel. It could be your marriage, you've tried, and you've tried, and you've tried, and you don't feel like there's any way to get it back to the place where it should be. It might be, you feel like quitting on a dream. You thought one day you could, and you would, and now you think there's just no way. Maybe it's on a ministry, that you felt like God wanted you to do but no matter how hard you try, it just doesn't come through. It could be on your kids. You don't wanna throw them away but you've prayed and you've prayed and you've prayed, and you just don't see any way that they're gonna come back to Jesus and live in a way that's honorable to him.
It could be an addiction that you've tried to overcome and you've prayed and you've fought and you've dedicated and rededicated and tried and tried again but you can't see seem to put it behind you. It could be your prayer for someone else to come to faith in Jesus, and the harder you pray, the further they seem to get from God. Some of you, it might just be life. You've done everything you can to hang in there and it feels like life is just too much. This is a message for someone who's tried and prayed and believed and feel like you've got nothing left. It's my prayer for you, that God's Word will speak to you today from Hebrews 10:35-37. When the author to the Hebrew said this, "So do not throw away your Confidence, it will be richly rewarded". "You need to," what, let say it aloud, "You need to persevere".
Our virtue for the day is the virtue of perseverance. You need to persevere. You need to keep going. You need to keep trusting. You need to keep believing. You need to hang in there. "You need to persevere so that when you've done the will of God, you'll receive what He has promised. For in just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay". In just a little while. How many of you have noticed that God is rarely early but He's never late? "Just a little while, He will come". You need to persevere. The title for today's message is, "When You Feel Like Giving Up".
Father, we ask that your word would speak life and faith, that we could persevere by your power, so that when we've done the will of God, we will receive what you have promised. We pray this in Jesus name and everybody said, Amen. Amen, amen.
Who's ready for some good news today? If you're ready, say I'm ready. Are you ready? I'm ready. You can type that in the chat, I'm ready, I do wanna share some good news to those of you who know that God has more for you and you're tired of settling for less. Yes. I'll give you a resource from Angela Duckworth. She's someone who studied at Harvard and Oxford and she went and did research and asked the question, "Why do successful people succeed"? And she and her team went and researched three different categories to find out why people succeeded. They went first to a famous military academy. Then they went to some very challenging schools. And then they went and studied world-class spelling bee champions. And they wanted to find out of those cadets who went to the military school, which ones succeeded, and which ones dropped out first and why.
And when they went to the inner city schools, they wanted to find out which teachers were successful and went the distance and which one caved in and quit before the end of the semester? And they went to look at fifth grade brilliant little kids, that spell words with 72 letters and wanted to find out why when they were equally talented, some would rise to the top and some way cave under the pressure? Why are some people successful and others aren't? And what they discovered was this, that it wasn't what they expected, it wasn't the IQ, it wasn't the intelligent quotient, but instead it was actually the AQ. The Adversity Quotient. It wasn't in just how smart they were, but it was how much they could overcome, not IQ, but AQ.
And Angela wrote a very helpful book called "Grit". And in the book she has a quote that I like, she said this, what is grit? "Grit is passion and perseverance for long-term goals". I like this, is both passion, meaning I'm excited about it, but it's not just passion, it's perseverance. And it's not just perseverance for a short season, but it's perseverance for long term goals. That we're not talking about perseverance like just for a semester or for a few weeks, we're talking about like raising a child with special needs. Where we're talking about serving Jesus when you have a chronic illness, where we're talking about showing back up, when it's easier to walk away, we're talking about the virtue of perseverance.
And today I wanna show you a very powerful story that I believe could give many of you, the faith to go on when it would be easier to quit. We're gonna look today in the Old Testament. Interestingly enough, we're gonna look at the sixth book of the Bible. We're gonna look at the sixth chapter of the sixth book in the Bible and I'm gonna quote a very good friend of mine, Pastor Steven Furtick, who preached a message here six years ago, actually it was seven, if it had been six that had been six, six, six, which would have made us the antichrist which many people say that we are but it was six, six, seven. And I'm going to share with you his title. His title was "Don't stop on six," which is a good thing to always do except for when it comes to having children. Because we actually have six kids.
For those of you who are a little bit older than I am, how many of you remember the show, "Eight Is Enough"? Anybody remember that show, "Eight Is Enough"? Yeah, six is enough. So maybe like two is enough. Somebody like a cat's enough. Yes it is. But whatever. And so the title is, "DDon't stop on six". Now some of you say like, "Hey you copied that title or some ideas from Steven Furtick". I just wanna tell you right now, yes, I did. I give him credit. I asked for permission and for the record, he probably owes me one or two, okay? So full credit to where some of these ideas came from. But let me give you the context and then we're gonna look at the sixth chapter of the sixth book of the Bible. God had promised his people Jericho. This is the context. But they had yet to take hold of the promise.
And if you look at Joshua 6:1. We're gonna look at a big portion of scripture that tells us this, "Now the gates of Jericho were tightly shut because the people were afraid of the Israelites". So you've got Jericho, you've got these big walls and, "No one was allowed to go out or in. But the Lord said to Joshua," this is what God says, "I have given you Jericho, its king, and all its strong warriors. You and your fighting men should march around the town once a day for six days". This is your assignment. Scripture goes on to say this, "Seven priests will walk ahead of the Ark, each carrying a Ram's horn. On the seventh day you're to march around the town "seven times with the priests blowing the horn. When you hear the priest give one long blast, "on the ram horns, have all the people shout". Let's practice that, all of our churches, "Have all the people shout". You did good. Those of you who are live just type that I'm shouting and give me some exclamation points.
"And all the people would shout, as loud as they can. And the walls of the town will collapse and people can charge straight into the town". The assignment was simple. "Walk around the walls one time a day. On the seventh day, walk around seven times, shout, blow your horns and the walls will come tumbling down". Why do we give up when God has promised us so much? Why do we find it hard to keep going and often lose our trust in the promises of God? I wanna show you two reasons that are very, very common. And you might see yourself in these reasons that I see myself. Why do we give up? The first reason is number one is because our perspective is often limited. Our perspective is often limited. For example, let's talk about Jericho for a moment. Jericho's not a very big city. In fact, you could march around it in about an hour or so.
So the problem wasn't that the city was big, the problem is that the walls were high. If you can imagine the Israelites were so close to the promise, it was just on the other side of the walls, but the walls were so high, the promise impossible to obtain. Maybe some of you can relate. There are those of you like, you know what it is that you want. You've got a dream, you've got a vision. You've got a place that you'd like to be. You know what you wanna have, but all you can see in your life is walls, obstacles, problems. I know this is where I wanna be. In fact, I believe that's where God wants me to be. But all you can see is that which is keeping you from the promise. Maybe for you it's like, you wanna get out of debt and you've got a vision to get on a debt and you believe you're gonna get out of debt. And you get so until you get Dave Ramsey's face tattooed on your arm.
We're gonna be gazelle intense debt-free and the moment you declare it, free things break and you just see the walls. You think we're gonna be a family that honors Jesus until we're gonna go to church and each other family we're gonna church and then they're running late and you're cursing them all the way there to church. And, "That didn't go well, we're not serving Jesus, are we"? You're gonna try to mend a broken relationship with a family member and you take them out to dinner. Mistake number one, doing it in a public place. And it breaks out into a shouting match. You had great intentions and they called security on you at Applebee's or whatever it is. The problem is we have a very limited perspective. And here's what's interesting. If you remember our text in verse one, it's fascinating.
Verse one says, "Jericho was securely barred". Remember that? It said, "No one can go in and no one can go out". But then in verse two God says, "I've given you Jericho". Verse one says, "You can't go in". Verse two says, "I've already given it to you," God says. Why did He do that? Because God is the only one who can speak in the past tense before a present reality. In other words, He's the only one who can tell you what is, when what is isn't yet. I wonder if some of you might be in a situation like that in your own life, where what He says about you is different than what you see about you. What He says about you is different than what you feel about you even now.
In other words, God might say that you're healed and yet you feel broken. God might say that you're a blessed, but you feel like He's forgotten you. God might say that you're an overcomer by the blood of the lamb and by the words of your testimony but you feel like you're overcome every single day. And like, life is just too much. Why is it? Because our perspective is often very, very limited. It's like the Israelites. If you notice, they don't know the end of the story. God told Joshua but Joshua didn't tell them. He just said, "Go march around the walls". Get up on Monday and march on Monday. Get up on Tuesday, march on Tuesday. Get up on Wednesday, march a Wednesday. And if you don't know what happened, I'll give you a spoiler alert. If you don't wanna know the end of the movie, put your fingers in your ears.
You go, "Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah". Because on the seventh day, they went seven times around and the walls came tumbling down. If you didn't grow up in Sunday school, you don't know there's a kid song about this story. And if you know it, you just may wanna sing it. It goes like this. "Joshua fought the battle of Jericho", help me, "Jericho, Jericho. Joshua fought the battle of Jericho and the walls came tumbling down". Now with hand signals... Not really, don't do that. Does anybody remember that song? Yes. Type it in the chat if you remember that song. I remember that song. Let me tell you what, Joshua would have hated that song. That's a stupid song. That's the dumbest song ever written. He would've despised that song. You know why? Number one 'cause it is stupid. Number two, it's because there's so much more to the story than what that little song says.
This wasn't just like a seven day joy hike. Take a little canteen and walk around that, "Ooh, look a butterfly". This was not that. This was more than 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. Wondering where are you, God? And we're ready and you promised and you haven't. And we believe you will. And we're soaring back up and we're hanging in there, we don't wanna give up and we don't see it but we're soaring back up and we're still believing. And when we don't have faith, well, we're trying to have some faith it's not just kinda wild came and ties like this was life for years hanging on, make it modern day.
It can't be like, let's just say Josh was jacked up, messed up, addicted to methamphetamines, porn addict, and he went for help and went into rehab and back sled and got clean and fell off the wagon again. And went to a seven-step program and declared he was fine and he wasn't fine. And he prayed and he fasted and everybody was gonna give up. And finally he found victory. Finally, he found freedom. And so they wrote a song about it. "Josh was addicted to drugs and porn, drugs and porn, drugs and porn. Josh was addicted to drugs and then he prayed and now he's fine". Stupid song. That's a stupid song. That's the dumbest song ever. Because there's so much more to it. And this is a problem.
So often when you look on others, you see their success and you see their victory lap and you don't know the price they paid and you don't know the pain they endured. And you don't know the story behind the story before the story that no one told the story of soaring back up and continuing to persevere. You can't even imagine the private battles and the personal sacrifices of someone who continues to believe God even when they don't see the promise, which He assures will come true. It's perseverance. It's the price. It's the private cost. Why do we give up? So often our perspective is limited. And secondly, our progress, isn't always obvious. Our progress isn't always obvious. In fact, I'll show you this in scripture.
Again, we'll look at a big portion of scripture. The Bible says this, "Joshua had commanded to the army, do not give a war cry and don't raise your voices". Now, once you get there, you can shout. But at first just shut up, is what he says. Don't say a thing. "Don't say a word, don't even say, Hey, where's everybody, how's it going? Oh, fine, you look so fly". "Don't say a word until the day I tell you to shout. Then shout". "Don't say a word until the day I tell you to shout, then shout. So he had the Ark of the Lord carried around the city circling it once". And scripture says, "Then the army returned to the camp and spent the night there. So on the second day, they marched around the city once and returned to the camp". And they did this stupid assignment for six days.
Can you imagine their frustration? You're not just doing something that seems pointless, like walking around the stupid city, tooting the horns. This was decades of waiting, decades of trusting. These are warriors. They've been trained for battle and they are ready for war. And all they got to do was take a morning stroll, walk around the block. That'd be embarrassing. Into the day and they were sitting here playing spades, their wife texts, "Hey, warrior, my brave hunk of a, you know what? Can't wait for you to come home and show me your warrior metals, hmm. What'd you do today, big boy? Did you kill some bad guys"? "Well, we're just warming up, stretching, we're just stretching the muscles". But the battle is coming, is coming. And they walked around one day and they walked around the next. They didn't see nothing, no progress, no evidence that God was with them.
Wouldn't it have been cool if God made it like a video game? You know how when you get to the new level, you get the trrrr, new level of music? Like end of the day, like nah, nah, nah. Or a seventh of the wall falls down like, and now there's six sevens left. Just keep on going, right? That'd be cool. Nah, nah, nah, new level music because we can handle the process as long as we see progress, right? Come on somebody You can fight for your marriage as long as you believe there's hope. You can keep paying down your debt as long as you believe one day you could actually pay something off. You can even eat good if you think you're gonna look good on the beach. I'll be snorting the Bahamas if they're giving herb, like hfff, take the thing down, pooh.
If you believe, if you see some progress, right, you can endure the pain. But they're just walking out there and not seeing any progress at all. And then what does Joshua do? "Hey boys, you're not even allowed to talk. Don't raise your voices, don't say a word". Why do you think Joshua kept them from talking? I can't be sure, but maybe it's because he knows that sometimes our mouth can be our worst enemy. Can you imagine if they were allowed to talk? like, "Hey bro, this is stupid". "Yo bro, Josh's lost his damn mind". Like you're gonna put up with this every day? "I ain't doing this thing every day, this is stupid".
40 years, you've been serving God and nothing happening. "I don't know where He is and I don't know what He's doing, but my feet hurting, this is stupid. I came out here to fight, I'm not doing this stuff. I don't know if you're gonna do this, but this is the dumbest thing I've ever seen". "Where's God? If he hadn't come through us by now, he's not coming through at all". Things are bad. They're gonna get worse. That's why sometimes you just got to tell yourself to shut up and keep doing what God told you to do. Sometimes you got to just preach to yourself, shut your trap and keep on marching. Shut up and keep trusting. Shut up, keep praying. Shut up, keep on loving someone who seems unlovable. Shut up and keep on forgiving. Shut up and show back up when everybody else runs off.
Sometimes you just got to talk to yourself and say, "Flesh, I don't believe you. I'm choosing faith. Circumstance, I don't believe you right now. I'm choosing God. I'm not walking by sight, I'm walking by faith. Shut up feelings, I'm trusting God". What's interesting again, is if you note, God told Joshua the process would take seven days, but Joshua didn't tell the people. Like for all they know, they're in a marching band. Like here we go again, right? And this is frustrating when there's no end in sight. When you're doing the right thing and it doesn't seem to make a difference. It is so much easier to honor God, it's so much easier to do what's right. It's so much easier to stay the course when you feel like it's working and when it pays off.
You could stay pure in your singleness if you knew God was sending you a hottie with a body in six months like, "Oh yeah, I'll serve you God, just send me my man," right? You could do that if you knew someone was coming. You could deal with your spouse's depression if you knew God would heal the depression by Christmas. In other words, you can take the pain when you know God is still working, when there's a payoff. Where is God in times like that? Where is He when you don't see Him? Maybe, maybe God's just building their faith. He's teaching them to depend on Him even when they don't see the results. He's building their faith.
What I discovered is this, that God often does something in you before he does something for you. That's my story in the last year. Marching around the walls and not seeing him come down. And I don't know how transparent to be with you. I never kinda know how much people can handle but I know for most of you, last year was probably, if not the toughest year of your life, one of them for most of you, especially for those of you who are in any form of leadership. And I'll tell you right now, it was a tough, tough, tough year because no matter how much we prayed and how hard we tried to get things right, just impossible to get everything right. And the personal toll that it took on me was probably way more significant than I realized.
And midway through, I've been in ministry now for 30 years, 25 years leading live church. I have never once ever looked over the side and thought, "Maybe I should do something else. Maybe this is too much". But midway through last year, I just started wondering, "Do I still have what it takes? Am I still the person? Does God still want me to doing this 'cause somebody else do it better. 'Cause I don't think I'm doing very good". And I kind of looked at the towel and thought for the first time, "Maybe it's time to throw it in. Maybe it's time to throw it in". I couldn't hear from God. Like I'm saying, "God, give me something, give me anything".
There was a longest time where I just couldn't hear anything. Like give me a word, give me something. I'm reading the Bible, I can't hear anything. And I heard one word and I didn't like the word. And God just told me the word study. It was like, "Okay, I can do study". And it wasn't even the assignment, it was just the fact that I recognized He's still with me. And He kind of brought me back to center. And what I realized is that whenever you're tempted to quit, it's always good to remember why you started. And I remember I didn't go into this for easy and I didn't go to be popular, I didn't go into it to be liked, I went in it because people are lost and dying and need help and salvation. And His name is Jesus. And it's about Him and it's not about me.
And so in some very low moments racked with private depression and just hurting, I looked at the towel in the same way you might look at the towel and you can throw it in or you can pick it up and wipe the sweat off your face and keep on marching and trusting God. I wanna talk to someone who's been faithful for a long time. You've been trusting God. You've been praying. You've been believing and you're still not seeing the promise. And I wanna tell you, you may be closer than you think. You may be closer than you think.
I'm reminded of Florence Chadwick, amazing woman. The first woman to swim the English Channel both ways. An incredible accomplishment. And in 1952, Chadwick decided to attempt a 26-mile swim between the California Coastline and the Catalina Island and 15 hours into this grueling swim, a very heavy fog settled in and she'd lost her bearing. And she couldn't see and confused and exhausted, discouraged. She wanted to get in the boat and they said, "Keep swimming, keep swimming, keep swimming, keep swimming". And she couldn't take it anymore. And she threw in the towel and she quit. And it wasn't until she got into the boat and could hear everybody there, she realized that the shore was less than a half mile away.
I don't know who this is for, but you may be closer than you think. You may be closer than you think. Our key text, you need to persevere. You need to persevere so that when you've done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised. You've been walking maybe for a long time just like we've been doing. For some girls in my life who need healing, Jesus heal. Please heal, I'm begging you to heal. I'm coming back and believe I'm like the persistent widow on Luke 18. I've done a lap and I'm still praying, and doing another lap and I don't see a thing and I'm still praying. And God I'm trying to hang on. I'm like Habakkuk, where are you, God? Do you not hear my cry? Why do you let the innocent suffer? I don't understand God, I don't see you.
And I'm running around the third lap and I'm continuing to go, "God, I don't see anything. All I see is the walls. All I see is the obstacles. God, I don't feel you. I don't feel like have heard from you and I'm on four and I'm continuing to trust God. And now I'm discouraged. Now I'm wondering, do I need to quit? Did I have it wrong? Is He really there". I'm continuing to trust Him. And I don't feel like it right now and now I'm kinda ticked off. And I don't even know if He's real at this point, but somehow I get back up and I go around and as I keep on going at one point before I know it, I'm actually on lap number six. And I may be one lap away from the promise and you may be closer than you think.
And that's why I came to tell somebody, don't you quit on six. Don't you quit on six. Don't you quit on six or quit on five or quit on four or quit on three or quit on two or quit on one or quit on God. Don't you quit on your marriage. Don't quit believing for your children. Don't walk away from your ministry. Don't abandon the church. Don't abandon God, don't quit on six. You may be so much closer than you think. You can throw in the towel or you can pick it back up and you can wipe the sweat off your brow and you can keep on walking and you can keep on trusting. And you can tell your feelings to shut up because you don't follow your feelings, but you have faith. You may be closer than you think you are.
Whenever you feel like you're ready to quit, just remember why you started. And I love what the Apostle Paul said in Galatians 6:9. He said, "Let us not become weary in doing good". Don't let us go weary in the march. Don't let us go weary in the faith. Don't let us go weary in praying and believing and trusting and hanging on when everybody else lets go. And we just keep on trusting God, walking by faith and not by sight. "Do not grow weary in doing good for at the proper time, you will reap a harvest if you do not give up".
This is for somebody, don't quit on six. Don't quit on God. He hears the cries of your heart. He is with you and He is always good. What do we do? A true virtue, the virtue of perseverance. Let us persevere so that you will experience the blessings of God. I don't know who this is for, but the devil wants you to throw in the towel. Jesus took the towel and washed some feet. You can take your towel, you wipe off the sweat. You can serve some people and you can stay in the game. And a promise is true. God's Word is true. You will reap a harvest, but you don't give up.
So, Father, we pray today in the name that is above every name that for those who feel ready to quit, that by your power and by your spirit, you would keep us running our race, eyes focused on Jesus, doing what you've called us to do.
As you're praying today without looking around, I wanna talk to anyone who might feel some discouragement, maybe some doubt, you've been hanging on to a dream, a prayer, trying to have faith for a long time and you haven't seen the promise fulfilled. If that's you today and you need God's help to persevere, would you just lift up your hands right now? Just lift them up. You can type in the chat online, "God help me persevere, God help me persevere".
And Father today, I just ask that it would not be by our might nor by our power but it would by your spirit that you carry us. God, not by our own effort. I know we run out of it and not even by her own faith, but by the faith that you give to us, just help us keep walking and keep trusting and keep believing because your word is true. Your promises never fail. So, God, by the power of your spirit for someone in some area that you've called them to experience your goodness, your promise, give them the faith to persevere. Give them the faith to persevere and God we believe they'll reap a harvest, they'll see your blessing if they keep trusting you and don't give up.
As you keep praying today, what's really special for me to think about is the fact that God hasn't given up on some of you. God didn't give up on me when year after year I turned away from his goodness. God didn't give up on me when I continued to do things against His will that broke His heart. God continued to pursue me. There's some of you right now you recognize that that maybe God's tried to reach out to you at different points in your life and He's doing it right now. What is it? It's His love, it's His loving kindness, it's His goodness that He's reaching out to you. He's not on anger, He's not mad at you, He loves you. And He showed you how much He loved you when He became like us. When God became flesh.
When you look at Jesus, the son of God, man, you want to talk about love. Jesus loved the unlovable. He touched those that religion rejected. He reached out to the lowest of low. He reached out to the most broken and He loved them where they were and invited them. "Hey, just leave your old life and come follow me". And Jesus and His love for us, He did something for us that we couldn't do for ourselves. He died in our place as the perfect sacrifice for the forgiveness of all of our sins. And what does He do? He ask us, He doesn't say, "You gotta be perfect. You gotta run a church and do all these things". He just says, "Hey, leave your old life and just follow me. Just be my disciple. Just follow me".
When you follow Jesus, He forgives your sins. He makes you brand new. He gives you spiritual blessings and direction and life may not always go the way you want it, but He's working in all things, in all things, even the bad things to bring about good because you'll love Him and be called according to His purpose.
Today in all of our churches, there are those of you, you recognize, "I'm not in a relationship with God. I don't know Him personally". Maybe you feel guilty for something that you've done. God is patient with you. He loves you and He's reaching out to you. And I'm gonna invite you just to say yes to His invitation. Just let go of whatever is old. Let go of whatever has been hurting you. Let go of whatever has been separating you from God and just say, "I wanna follow Jesus. I wanna give Him my life". When you do, when you cry out to Him, He hears your prayer, He forgives every sin and He makes you brand new. You're not watching by accident. You're here because God loves you today.
Those of you online, all of our churches, you say, "I need His grace, I need His grace, I need His grace. I'm letting go of my old life. Today I give my life to Jesus". That's your prayer. Just lift your hands high right now. All of our churches say, "Yes, I'm giving my life to Christ". As we see tons of people today at our churches and online, those of you online, just type in the chat, "I'm giving my life to Jesus". Just type that in right now and we would be honored wherever you are to pray with you. More importantly, God hears your prayer, just pray this aloud. If you're comfortable pray:
Heavenly Father, I give you my life. Jesus forgive my sins. Save me. I surrender my whole life to you. Fill me with your Spirit so I could know you, and so I could follow you. Direct my steps. My life is not my own. I give it all to you. Thank you for new life. You have mine, in Jesus' name, I pray.