“How are you?” Of course my instincts were to ask the obvious question, though I knew the answer before I even asked. He looked up from what he was doing and said simply, “I’m trying.” His face held a sincerity that went far beyond his words. We said our brief goodbyes, and then I was on my way. Nonetheless, I couldn’t get those words out of my mind for the balance of the day, “I’m trying.”
The opposite of, ‘I’m trying’ is simply, not trying … or put another way, to give up. Either way, to ‘try’ implies that we’re still in the fight … we’re not ready to give ourselves over to that which is trying to defeat us.
In my ministry, I encounter many people who are struggling through many issues, some heavier than others, some seemingly impossible to carry. And while the issues may be different for everyone, how we deal with them is not. But I’ve observed that much of how we respond to the challenges in our lives depends on the voices of encouragement we hear all around us. And perhaps most critical of all is God’s voice. Even for those who struggle with their faith, to believe there’s a reason to keep trying that perhaps we don’t understand, but that keeps nudging us forward nonetheless, is God’s way of saying to us, “I didn’t put you on this earth to give up on you so don’t give up on yourself.”
One of the most vivid memories I have of our daughters when they were little, was teaching them to ride a bike ... taking off those training wheels for the first time. Part of the challenge was in knowing when they were ready to accept the challenge. But truthfully, the most important thing I could do was to just push them off, run alongside, and shout my constant encouragement, “You can do this … you can do this!” That’s the image I have of God in my life.
Maybe the load we’re carrying is heavy. Maybe we feel we’re too tired, too worn out to carry it. Maybe we feel we have every reason to give up. But the fact that we don’t is evidence of God’s quiet encouragement, “I didn’t put you on this earth to give up on you so don’t give up on yourself.”
Therefore, we are not discouraged; rather, although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 2 Cor 4:16