Bob Tamasy: "Keep on Keepin' On" - Easier Said Than Done

  • Thursday, February 15, 2024
  • Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy

Have you ever started an ambitious endeavor with great enthusiasm and high expectations, only to experience the excitement fading as your goals took much longer to achieve than you had imagined?

That has happened to me a number of times – a project at work that proved more complex than anticipated; a book I intended to write until some unexpected hurdles got in the way; even taking drum lessons and becoming dissatisfied with my progress.

It’s easy to utter the cliché, “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” but when days turn into weeks and weeks become months, we can find discouragement lurking right around the next bend. Perseverance and patience are noble virtues, but unlike coffee and pudding, they don’t come in instant form. They require time and determination.

Kind of like the little boy who opened a door and discovered a room filled with horse manure. Rather than being repelled, he started digging and digging. “With all this manure,” he reasoned, “there must be a pony in here somewhere!”

Sometimes well-conceived projects turn out to be just stinky, without a pony in sight. As time drags on, the work gets harder, and the objectives remain beyond reach, it’s very tempting to become disheartened and entertain thoughts of giving up. ‘What’s the use?’ “I knew I couldn’t do it.’

What if inventors like Thomas Edison, the Wright brothers, Alexander Graham Bell, and many other inventors had thrown in the towel after failing time after time? Who knows? We might still be sitting in the dark at night, telling each other than human flight is a fantasy, and believing that talking to someone long distance is just a crazy idea.

How can we “keep on keepin’ on” despite setbacks, obstacles, and the expending of much blood, sweat and tears that cause our confidence to waver? Especially in a spiritual sense, when familiar sins continue to trip us up, prayers seem to go unanswered, and God-shaped dreams seem unrealistic?

Much could be written about this and already has, from many perspectives. But a few simple tips might help to keep us going during the tough times. For instance, don’t attempt important, even daunting initiatives alone. I love the admonition from the author of the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes, whom many scholars identify as King Solomon of Israel:

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work. If one falls down, his friends can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!... Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).

We find similar wisdom in the New Testament: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another…” (Hebrews 10:24-25). As a friend of mine has often said, “Not one of us is as strong or as smart as all of us together.”

Another helpful tip is to maintain a clear vision, remaining focused on the intended outcome. One verse that quickly comes to mind in that respect is 1 Corinthians 15:58, in which the apostle Paul admonished first-century believers, “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.”

For those of us involved in seeking to advance God’s kingdom in one way or another, we can easily fall into the trap of discouragement when desired results seem slow in coming. Paul was acutely aware of this, because he wrote elsewhere, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9)

If anyone’s entitled to become discouraged or disillusioned, it would be the Lord Himself as He surveys what’s going on in the world right now. I can’t help thinking of Jesus Christ, who following His crucifixion, burial and resurrection reconnected with His disciples and commissioned them just before His ascension. We find His final instructions in Mathew 28:19-20, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

Even though disciples surely are being made in many places, and the Gospel is being preached in more nations and languages than ever, the cause of Christ seems to have so far yet to go. Do you think the Lord is wringing His hands in frustration or feeling disheartened? I don’t think so.

If anything, we need to continue looking to Jesus for unwavering hope. Hebrews 12:1-3 amounts to one incredible pep talk, an exhortation for us not to give up:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

* * *

Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly published, ”Marketplace Ambassadors”; “Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace”; “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” A weekly business meditation he edits, “Monday Manna,” is translated into more than 20 languages and sent via email around the world by CBMC International. The address for his blog is www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com. His email address is btamasy@comcast.net.

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