Lance Armstrong, an American cycling super star, confronted cancer in the 1990’s and beat it. He subsequently made a simple but very profound and incisive statement when he pointed out that “Pain is temporary but quitting lasts forever.” Doesn’t that truly sum up what we, in the Church of God, have to avoid at all costs? Quitting lasts forever — especially in the Christian life.
I’m not talking about those things that we should quit. Galatians 5:19-21 clearly lists the works of the flesh that must not be a part of our Christian way of life. When we were being called and were repenting of our sins as we saw ourselves for what we were, these may well have been areas that we had to work on. Even after conversion, we must continue to strive to overcome those works of the flesh.
I’m talking about the way of life that we’ve been called to. The Christian way of life is for now and forever — and if we permanently forsake that way, then we have, in effect, quit forever.
We can, and we all do get temporarily discouraged. We are not alone in this. Moses, Elijah and Job, amongst others, were Old Testament examples of men of God who went through temporary times of discouragement. In the New Testament, there is a prime example of discouragement — but only on a temporary basis. When Jesus was being arrested, Matthew 26:56 states that “all the disciples forsook Him and fled.” Not just some of the disciples, but ALL of them. They must have been massively discouraged, but the Scriptures show that this was temporary and that they didn’t permanently quit.
There were other quitters — whether these people ever really understood, we don’t know (but God knows). After 3 ½ years of preaching about the Kingdom of God, healing so many people and performing many miracles, there were those who turned their backs on Christ. John 6:66 states simply that “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.” We see here the backsliding of these disciples. Many of them must have gone back to their houses, families and previous jobs which they had left for a time to follow Him.
Undoubtedly, in many of those cases, 1 John 2:19 would apply, stating: “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.”
We have the greatest calling in the world. Quitting must never enter our thinking irrespective of the circumstances in which we find ourselves. Matthew 24:13 tells us why we must stay the course. This Scripture is a repeat of what is said in Matthew 10:22. It clearly states that “he who endures to the end shall be saved.” We have to endure — not quit. We are having our chance now for salvation — eternal life.
While Lance Armstrong was applying his statement to endeavors in this life, it is a masterly summation of what we, in the Church, are involved in. We must always keep in the forefront of our minds that pain is temporary but quitting is, indeed, forever.