Should We Power Through?

by Mary Stephens
July 2017

1 Peter 1:24-25 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

2 Corinthians 12:9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

I am weary of hearing that we should just "power through it" or "push through".

Got pain or chronic illness? Power through.
Going through hard times? Power through.
Grieving? Power through.
Financially destroyed? Power through.
Depressed? Power through.

What an utterly hopeless answer.

I wonder what people really think we are, or what they think they are themselves. God clearly says that ...all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. He also tells us our life is but ...a vapor that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. (James 4:14)  

It is true that all power is given unto Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18), and we ...can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth... us (Philippians 4:13).

But, what about "powering through"?

How many have tried to "keep going" and "power through" sickness or health problems only to find out at some point that they have destroyed their health so badly that they require excessive rest and treatment to even partially recover? God told His people to rest the seventh day, not just "power through" life. We are not under that law now, but the principle of rest is still a blessed picture of what we have in Jesus Christ and it is referred to numerous times in the New Testament.

How many people have tried to "power through" grief and then found to their sorrow that they had not properly grieved and so they end up with depression or belated uncontrollable grief much later? The Lord tells us to ...weep with them that weep. (Romans 12:15) Jesus made the point to partake of the grief at the grave of His friend Lazarus despite the fact that He knew He would raise him from the dead in a few minutes (John 11:33-35).  They wept for Stephen when he died (Acts 8:2), and for Dorcas also (Acts 9:39). There is a time to weep, as Solomon said (Ecclesiastes 3:4). To be consumed by grief is not what Christians should be doing (1 Thessalonians 4:13), but neither should we "power through" it and make too little of it.

How many people have "powered through" too many "obligations" and "responsibilities" that only they could do (they imagined) only to find that they have exhausted their resources and are now sick or broke or worse? God doesn't expect us to do everything. He expects us to use the talents He has given us wisely, not to abuse them and waste them. In other words, we need to learn when to say "no" so that we have the strength to do the things that He really does want us to do. We also need to accept that He gives us according to our abilities (1 Corinthians 12:8-11), not according to what other people think we should do. It is up to us to recognize our limits and boundaries and to establish them.

How many people have "powered through" family problems only to discover later that they never really resolved the issue because they were so busy "powering through" that they forgot to stop and listen, pray together, and actually work together? Healing of homes and marriages takes time, listening, and talking about the things that really matter.

Here's one of the key problems - "Powering through" implies speed and hard pushing, while many things in life take time and patience to be done properly. The Psalmist told God, "...thy gentleness hath made me great." (Psalm 18:35) Some of the people in life whom I have found to be the most useful and the greatest blessing to be with have been those who knew how to be still, how to be quiet and listen, how to speak lasting words rather than loud ones, how to touch a life with the life-giving power of Jesus Christ rather than their own show of power and strength.

Isaiah 30:15 For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not.

How many Christians are so busy "powering through" life's many issues, aliments, and doings that they are missing the quiet confidence of living in the rest and peace that Jesus wants us to have? They literally will not rest and be quiet, just as the Israelites would not.

Jesus said, "Come unto me all ye that are weary and heavy laden and I will give you" - not "the ability to power through", no - "REST." (Matthew 11:28) REST, friends.

Horatio Bonar wrote this, "Faith is rest, not toil. It is the giving up all the former weary efforts to do or feel something good, in order to induce God to love and pardon; and the calm reception of the truth so long rejected, that God is not waiting for any such inducements, but loves and pardons of His own goodwill, and is showing that goodwill to any sinner who will come to Him on such a footing, casting away his own poor performances or goodnesses, and relying implicitly upon the free love of Him who so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son."

You see fear or pride often results in ceaseless doing. Busy-ness too often is covering something more important, perhaps the lack of true salvation, or the lack of belief in the security God has promised all who are saved. It is sometimes drowning out the truly needful things - sitting at Jesus' feet and hearing His word (Luke 10:42), speaking often one to another in the fear of the Lord (Malachi 3:16), being kindly affectioned one toward another (Romans 12:10), and more.

One of the greatest challenges of living in this present age is to live a quiet, peaceable, productive life and not feel like we're failing because we're not doing as much as the frantic throngs around us appear to be doing. Do you feel it? Do you allow it to rule your life? Can you sit still with no music, no T.V., no extraneous noise, no chatter or talk, no cell phone, no computer, and just think and meditate on the Lord and His word and creation, or read a book, or pray?

Try it sometime. You may discover that you can hear the still small voice of God better when the volume of life is turned down or off.

1 Kings 19:11-12 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.

This world and the devil are very talented at producing destructive "winds", "earthquakes", and "fires" to distract us from the one thing we need. It is so easy to get all caught up in "powering through" the many challenges of life - surviving the damaging "winds, life being turned upside down by "earthquakes", and putting out the many, many "fires" that seem to demand our attention. How often we totally miss the still small voice of God because we're "powering through" the challenges.

This is not to say that there is never a time to "power through", but it is something like driving a Land Rover in Africa (or other places). When you come a mud hole in the road you may need to power through in order not to sink into it. Or you can go around sometimes as my grandfather would if he could. But, in life much of the way is long, steep climbs or descents where it isn't going to be a good idea to "power through". Save that for the shorter muddy spots. Even the long muddy roads are going to need a steady progress rather than "powering through". And, by the way, in some of those mud holes skilled drivers know that if you power through incorrectly you will only bury yourself in the mud and make it that much harder to get out.


Perseverance - n.: steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success. [Source]

Perseverance is what we need. Perseverance is not about "powering through" or "pushing through". It is about doing the thing in front of us that the Lord has given us to do and not quitting. It is about following the Lord's leading faithfully, even when it feels like we're going around the same mountain for 40 years - because of someone else's sin. Do you know how hard that is? But those forty years of wilderness wandering made soldiers out of the children of fearful slaves. They couldn't "power through". They needed that wilderness experience to make them what they needed to be to take the Promised Land. If we could only grasp that!

I can plod. I can persevere in any definite pursuit. To this I owe everything.
-William Carey

Perseverance is digging in and staying the lines when the enemy is blocking every forward position. It is determining to resist to the last but never turn back. There is no place for "powering through" with some facade of bravado in times like that. It's the ultimate courage to hold your position and not retreat when there is no place to go but back.

Psalms 27:14 Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.

Wait on the Lord. Wait. On the Lord. Does that sound like "powering through" to you? Does that sound like "just push through it, sister/brother"? It doesn't to me.

Jesus told His disciples, "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing." John 15:5 Nothing. And when we try to "push through" or "power through" in some place or way that the Lord did not intend, we only go where He did not lead us. Then why are we so surprised when things don't work out well or we find we've exhausted our meager resources and are left empty and broken?

Annie Johnson Flint wrote this:

When we have exhausted our store of endurance, 
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done, 
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources, 
Our Father's full giving is only begun.

Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision, 
Our God ever yearns His resources to share; 
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing; 
The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.

Learn to rest in the Lord. Even when you feel like you must be "up and doing" in order to prove that you are...what? A Christian, a "good person", a faithful soldier, not "lazy"? Why do we think we need to prove things to ourselves and others when the only opinion that matters is the Lord's? Oh, I know. I have done it myself more time than I care to admit!

If He is putting us on a rest assignment and we know we need to do that in order to have strength to do the things that He has given us to do, what our fellow soldiers - Christians - think is unimportant. obey is better than sacrifice... (1 Samuel 15:22), but how hard it is to do that when the sacrifice would make us so much more noticed in the eyes of those around us!

Learn to persevere, even when it feels like there's nowhere to go and you're doing the same old thing the same old way over and over and over again. Learn to be content in whatsoever state you find yourself (Philippians 4:11). Go when HE says "Go", and you will have His "all power" to back you. Stay when HE says "Stay", and you'll not end up in some mess you created by your own pride and "power". But stick to it even when it feels like you've been stuck there forever. Because it's better to be stuck in one place in God's will than "powering through" where He didn't send you and in something He never meant for you to do.

Do you know that the best way to not become "weary in well doing" is to "rest in the Lord"? (2 Thessalonians 3:13; Psalm 37:7)

When the apostle Paul was warned in the book of Acts not to go up to Jerusalem so that he wouldn't be arrested, he "powered through" and kept "pushing forward" because, I believe, he had some delusion that he was going to die at Jerusalem like Jesus had and that it was somehow the noble and heroic thing to do. Instead, God made sure he ended up in prison for years. Two years he sat in Caesarea till he appealed to Caesar and was sent to Rome. There he was under house arrest and later in prison. Stuck in one place where he couldn't do anything for the church any more - anything except write letters. And several of those letters became part of the scripture.

He was still used of the Lord, but what if he hadn't tried to do his own thing his own way? What if he had heeded the warnings? What if he had not foolishly taken a Jewish vow under the Old Covenant and gotten himself into a mess? We will never know.

But we do know this. "Powering through" and "pushing ahead" when God doesn't want us to will only lead to unforeseen complications and difficulties. It won't turn out like we expected or wanted it to. The merciful and kind Lord will give us something to do, but we'll never know how it might have been; at least we won't this side of Heaven. How many tears will the Lord have to wipe from our eyes someday because of all the things we might have done for Him if we had followed His way instead of "powering through" in our own strength and on our own plan?

Yes, we can be deceived by what appears to be "good results", and in our results oriented world this is very seductive. But we weren't left here to get results. We are here to abide in Him and let Him produce the fruit He deems fit. We are here to do the will of the Father, even when it looks like a failure to the people who see us buried without the "results" they expected from us. Like Jesus. Remember? It is also for us to let Him show the power of His resurrection through us, but to get there we will have to also know Him and taste the fellowship of His suffering, and be made conformable unto His death - a death that appeared to be the ultimate failure to "power through" in the eyes of those around Him.

Philippians 3:9-14 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Did you know that you can press forward toward that high calling without "powering through" in your own strength?

1 Corinthians 4:2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

A faithful servant knows that when he or she is told to "wait here" that is the job he's to do until told otherwise. This does not necessarily mean idleness as we think of it, for there are many small and important things that we can do while we're waiting. Praying, speaking words of encouragement to those working around us, speaking the words of life to those who are brought within our range, and many things like this. "Oh, there's too much work to be done for the Lord for me to be still and wait," someone says. "We must be up and doing." Not if the Master has commanded us otherwise.

God closed up two women in sick rooms with infirmities that kept them from "powering through" life. They could do nothing but write. They both wrote poems. To this day those poems are blessing the hearts of God's people. One is Martha Snell Nicholson. The other is Annie Johnson Flint. In being still and waiting on the Lord they found quiet, seemingly unimportant work to do, and yet the Lord has preserved the efforts of their hands and has made sure that they were passed on in ways and places that we don't even know so that we could be edified, cheered on, and encouraged by them to this very day. Because they persevered and did the quiet work while listening at Jesus' feet, their words still minister to us now. The poems of Annie Johnson Flint are the most visited page in this web site. I know that her words are speaking Christ into the lives of people still.

Those children you are raising without the notice of other people, without the praise of the awards on Mother's Day, without the kerfuffle of participating in all the things that are popular now among Christian families - those, children, ma'am, may be the epistle you write to someone. What will it say? Of whom will it speak? Don't inundate your life with projects and activities till you don't have time to instill the most important things in those children. Don't "power through" all the trials and joys of life and miss the opportunity to leave a lasting message for Christ through them. True, not all children will bear the message, but don't let it be because YOU were too busy to write it in their heart.

Those difficult people you have to deal with, friend, those trying situations you have to face in your life - what are the people who are around seeing as your message in all that? Are they reading Jesus Christ and Him crucified? Or do they see you "powering through" and "pushing through" to prove what you are and show what you can do?

There is a time to "be up and doing" and we should not miss that when and where the Lord leads that way. But, let's not allow ourselves be compelled to "power through" to prove to others that we are something - anything. Let's rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him so that when the real power is shown it will be His power and He will get all the praise and glory.

"According to the Power"

If our scanty measure were used,
How poor were the gifts of the Lord;
If our cups of thought and our pitchers of prayer
Were all that His love could afford.

But - above all our stammering tongues
Can voice of our deepest desire,
Abundant above all the pitiful good
To which our small minds can aspire;

Exceeding abundant above
The reach of our groveling thought;
So great is the fullness of knowledge and grace
His power to usward hath wrought.

Annie Johnson Flint

Ephesians 3:14-21 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.



graphics and backgrounds by Mary Stephens