When faced with challenges in life, many tend to give up easily. They have not been trained to persevere and to stay on course, regardless of what might come. While this is true for many, what should our attitude be? Let us heed the advice given by a prophet to one of the kings of Israel. He said, “But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded” (2 Chro. 15:7) The promise of a reward should be a good motivation for us to persevere in the pursuit of what God has started in us. This advice was given to King Asa when he started a reform in Israel. It was a radical reform, since it involved cleansing the land of spiritual defilement. It was not an easy job for him, as his forefathers learned, but he had to do it in order to do what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord and receive an eternal reward.
In his epistle, the apostle Paul had to distinguish between two kinds of rewards when he said, “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever” (1 Cor. 9:25). He encouraged believers to seek the better reward, saying further, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Cor. 4:18). In his epistle, the apostle Paul described one of the crowns that believers will receive as the crown of righteousness, “which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing” (2 Tim. 4:8). On his end, the apostle Peter encouraged the workers in the kingdom of God who were looking after the flock of God, saying, “When the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away” (1 Peter 5:4).
While those living a righteous life and working in the kingdom of God expect a reward, it is often not expected by those who are undergoing trials. As far as they are concerned, to be able to get by is enough. However, James, in his letter, says, “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12). This should motivate those who are under severe trials not to give up. There is no better reward than life itself – here on earth and in heaven. In fact, the life that Jesus promised is a full and abundant life.
Even godly men need to be motivated. When Joshua assumed the leadership from Moses, he found himself in a very difficult situation. If Moses, who was so favoured by God, found it difficult to lead Israel into the Promised Land, how could he do the job without pain? For this reason, God himself encouraged him, saying, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). The reason why we should never give up is that God will always be with us. He promised never to leave us nor forsake us. However, we need to be reminded of this truth again and again, because we tend to focus more on our circumstances and what we cannot do than focus our eyes on God and what he can do. We should be reminded that if God is with us, who can be against us? Besides, there is nothing too hard for the Lord and he makes everything possible to those who call on his name and believe in him.
As we face this life’s challenges, let us continue to serve the Lord. These challenges come only to distract and discourage us so that we do not persevere. If we give up, there are no other losers but us. However, if we persevere and stay strong, we will reap the blessings. “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Cor. 15:58). Indeed, our labour in the Lord will be rewarded fully because God is not unjust. His reward will certainly not be the same for everyone, because his promise is that each one will be rewarded according to what he has done. Friends, let us continue the walk that we started in the Lord. While we may have not tasted of the promised reward yet, it will surely come because God has said so. No work done for the Lord will be left unnoticed. Everything that we have done will be evaluated on the day of the Lord Jesus Christ and we will get our reward. Meantime, let us give our best to the work of the Lord and glorify his name. Hallelujah!