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The Weekly Winning Thought

What To Do When You Feel Like Giving Up

By January 22, 2023No Comments

“Never give up on something that you can’t go a day without thinking about.”

-Winston Churchill

“I’d just as soon be dead.”

These are words spoken by my friend Tony last week (not his real name). He’s a Christian, a good man, a great father and husband. But he’s tired. Life has been tough for him lately. He’s not suicidal at the moment, though he admits he thought about it for all of five seconds. He’s thinking more about a statement the Apostle Paul spoke nearly 2000 years ago: “We would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord (2 Cor 5:8).”

Tony knows he has more to live for, but right now, at this unique point in time, he would rather be with the Lord than wonder where his son is and how he is. Mike (not his real name either), Tony’s son, was raised in what we call a good Christian home. Tony and his wife read the Bible, were involved in their church, and watched Mike and his sister enjoy being part of the youth group. But something changed with Mike in his first semester at college. He met a professor who didn’t read the Bible and introduced him to New Atheism. And he had a hall-mate who introduced him to opioids. Two semesters later, Mike is now on the street somewhere. He left his faith and abandoned his identity in Christ, and he took Tony’s heart with him.

Now Tony struggles with his faith, and his self-worth and identity. “It wasn’t supposed to be this way,” Tony said to me. He continued, “I wasn’t a perfect father, but I was pretty good. I’d rather be with Christ today than look down the road tomorrow for my prodigal to return. I just don’t see it happening.”

I hurt for Tony because he’s my friend. I also hurt for him because there are so many Tonys out there experiencing the same. The circumstances may be different, but the crisis is the same, and the hurt is the same. Who do you know right now that doesn’t have a close family member in some sort of crisis – marital, health, children, work, etc? Being human means we experience pain. Christians don’t get a pass. We just have one. And though it’s hard to realize when you’re deep in the trenches of battle, that’s sufficient, even in times we don’t feel like it.

Tony can’t take care of Mike right now. He took care of Mike for 18 years, during which he was responsible for him. Now Tony is only responsible to Mike, not for Mike. Mike is responsible for himself now, and Tony must realize this and act upon the power that is within him, not capitulate to the circumstances around him. We sang a song in church today that had these words: “It may look like I’m surrounded, but I’m surrounded by you. This is how I fight my battles (to listen to the song, click here).” The way we Christians fight our battles is surrounded by the Creator of the universe.

Tony is in a dangerous place right now. He needs to recognize it, and friends like me need to help him recognize this and support him by spending time with him and praying for him. In his book “12 Rules for Life”, author, professor, and clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson says, “People are better at filling and properly administering prescription medication to their pets than to themselves.” He goes on to state that one-third of people don’t fill the prescriptions that are written by their doctors, and “half of the remaining sixty-seven will fill it, but won’t take the medication correctly. Recipients of transplants still suffer the effects of organ rejection, despite the existence and utility of these drugs. It’s not because the drugs fail (although they sometimes do). It’s more often because those prescribed the drugs do not take them.”

What causes us to take better care of our dogs than ourselves? Peterson explains this phenomenon in his book, which I highly recommend. It has a lot to do with hope and vision (or lack thereof), disappointment, and betrayal. But we are believers in Christ. We “…do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.” But we’re also human, and we often still believe, yet need help with our unbelief.

It’s time for Tony to take care of himself. He has done all he can do for now. Tony no longer has any control over Mike; what Mike believes and what Mike puts into his body. Tony must feed himself with truth; the prescription written by the Great Physician. He must hold onto his fractured, mustard-seed-sized faith. He must not dismiss the need for fellowship, for encouragement from, and laughter with friends. Tony must take care of himself because Mike needs a strong father like Tony. Mike needs a healthy dad to return to when the bright lights dim, the music fades, and he longs for the hope of his upbringing.

Do you know a Tony? Are you Tony? Don’t give up. God is reaching out to us. You and I need to help him grab God’s hand and return to the order Christ came to restore. We must remember that while our hearts break for those who’ve abandoned our training and faithfulness, we must continue in the truth we know, not the lies that attempt to seduce us. Let us not give up on ourselves just because our loved ones appear to have given up. Rather let us be found hoping in the One who did not give up on us so that we will endure in hope – hope for ourselves and hope for the prodigal who may even be headed home at this very moment. There is a story of redemption and restoration that has not yet been written for those who do not give up as Hebrews 10:23 encourages us to do: “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”

If you know a Tony, consider forwarding this article to him or her.

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