“There are others who are in worse shape than I am.” How often I have heard someone who was suffering, say just that. It seems to be a way of gaining a perspective that enables us to persevere. A few years ago a man found himself saying this as he floated in a raft for twenty-six days in the open ocean.
It was 1982 and Steven Callahan was attempting to sail across the Atlantic Ocean all alone. Along the way his sailboat struck something and sank. His supplies were few and his raft leaked air, yet for nearly a month he kept himself going by constantly telling himself – “Compared to what others have been through, I’m fortunate.”
Though we cannot depend solely upon the power of positive thinking, maintaining an outlook like Steven Callahan’s can help us to endure. Consider these words written to believers who were suffering –
Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish. He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterward. Now he is seated in the place of highest honor beside God’s throne in heaven. 3 Think about all he endured when sinful people did such terrible things to him, so that you don’t become weary and give up. 4 After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.
Often we want to give up. Often we hear a voice that says, “It’s not worth it. Why are you even trying?” Yet if we will listen carefully, we will hear another voice that will say, “Follow Me.” We read in this passage – “Keep your eyes on Jesus. Think about all He endured. Don’t become weary and give up.”
Steven Callahan was eventually rescued by three fishermen. They found him nearly a month later, tired and much thinner, yet still persevering. Many years ago a gospel song was written entitled – ‘When We See Christ.’ Consider these words –
Oft times the day seems long, our trials hard to bear,
We’re tempted to complain, to murmur and despair;
But Christ will soon appear to catch His Bride away,
All tears forever over in God’s eternal day.
It will be worth it all when we see Jesus,
Life’s trials will seem so small when we see Christ;
One glimpse of His dear face all sorrow will erase,
So bravely run the race till we see Christ.
Words and music by Esther Kerr Rusthoi