“Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them — every day begin the task anew.” – Francis de Sales
It’s edging toward mid-August, and the beginning of the school year in the Northern Hemisphere swiftly approaches. Churches are launching Sunday School classes and Bible studies soon. As it’s a season of new beginnings, many of us might be revisiting the resolutions and goals we set on New Year’s Day.
In January, we determined we could – and we would – make positive changes in our lives. Unfortunately, for many of us, February brought with it a concession of defeat as we failed to meet our goals. Perhaps we wallowed in self-loathing at our lack of ability to fulfil the promises made to ourselves. By March, exercise bikes became clothes racks, and junk food reappeared in our grocery carts. We slept through our alarm clocks more often than not, curtailing our morning bible reading. Our tempers flared at our loved ones. It can be tempting to label ourselves as failures at this point.
Most psychologists assert the odds of keeping New Year’s Resolutions through sheer willpower are relatively small. Most Christians would agree with that assessment. When we surrender our will, self-reliance, and self-righteousness to God, we begin to see the victory over reoccurring sins and harmful habits in our lives. As Christ-followers, we find success through repentance and obedience to His lordship.
We find freedom as we humble ourselves before Him and become transparent before our brothers and sisters in Christ. We only find strength when we admit we are weak. And often, that strength is found when we extend as much compassion and patience toward ourselves as we would extend to someone else who stumbles. We readily apply Colossians 3:12 to those around us, but do we apply that same grace to ourselves?
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another.”
God is well aware of our weaknesses; He knew what He was getting into when He called us to Himself. His mercies are new every morning. No matter how many days in a row we failed to rise out of bed early enough to spend a few minutes with Him before the start of our day, He patiently waits for us. While He prefers that we would be people of our word, He continues to extend His grace toward us despite our dismal track record.
May we extend the same measure of patience, tolerance, and long-suffering toward ourselves that God extends toward us. So often, we label ourselves as write-offs because of a slight stumble. Most of us give up on ourselves far too quickly. We intellectually acknowledge Christ’s forgiveness when we turn to Him in repentance. And yet, we can’t move past our failures. Worse yet, we use a slight stumble as an excuse to return to bad habits.
“I ate one cookie. Therefore, I failed my plan to live a healthy lifestyle. Therefore, I might as well eat the box of cookies.”
“I didn’t wake up early two mornings in a row even though I promised God I’d have a quiet time with Him. I might as well face it; some people are cut out to be close to God, but I guess I just don’t have what it takes.”
Jeremiah says it so well in Lamentations 3:17-20. Have you ever felt this way after a momentary lapse of self-control?
“My soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, ‘My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the Lord. Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall. My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me.”
If anyone had a reason to feel hopeless about His circumstances, it was Jeremiah! But he doesn’t stay in that place for long, as we see by reading further along in Lamentations 3:21-25.
“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.’ The Lord is good to those who wait for him.”
Pray with me.
Lord, give me the courage to begin anew every morning. And if I fail, grant me the grace to repent swiftly, to accept Your forgiveness, and to forgive myself just as quickly. Lord of all, you have always shown me so much patience. Please help me to follow your example. I thank you that you are the God of new beginnings. I choose to walk in obedience to your leadership. Please give me the grace to keep my eyes set on the goal before me, regardless of the momentary pain of self-denial. Please help me not to focus on my strengths and weaknesses. Help me to focus my attention on Your strength and power instead.
Psalm 103:8-13 – “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.”
Until Next Week
© 2022 Katherine Walden
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