Below are Jessica's thoughts on Chapter 5 of Never Give Up! by. I've chosen to selectively address the points which impacted me the most. Please know that what we all learn from a study is usually different. Therefore we ask, if you feel like it please share in the comments section what you got out of the reading as well. We're sure you'll lift someone's spirit.)
In chapter 5, It'll Cost You, Joyce Meyer gives some great examples of incredible victories attained by people who were willing to push past obstacles and difficulties of every kind. She begins with Wilma Rudolph, the unbelievable female athlete who persevered against illness, poverty and physical pain to become an Olympic gold medalist. Marian Hammaren walks through unimaginable grief and personal pain after her only child is killed in the Virginia Tech massacre to get to a place of strength and depth in her relationship with God and others who suffer such loss. Aron Ralston first saves himself and a friend during an avalanche, then goes on to successfully amputate his own arm after it is trapped under a boulder. Joyce even shares some of her own journey, as she triumphs in every area of her life despite a past that included sexual, mental and emotional abuse. In all of these examples, someone was willing to push through unthinkable physical and unseen obstacles to get to the reward that God had in store for them.
The Greater the Challenge, The Greater the Reward: Joyce challenges us to change the way we view our obstacles and consciously choose to respond to them in ways that are honorable to God and reflect our faith in His plan for our lives. She identifies a need for balance in our approach to growth, making right choices (especially when it's hard to do), remaining disciplined, being consistent and choosing not to settle. If we do these things, we won't give up or give in when the going gets tough and will be blessed beyond what we could imagine for ourselves. I can see clearly how each of these attributes can be applied as I work toward my own personal victory in triumphing over autism. As mothers, we are continually challenged to stretch beyond what is considered reasonable and comfortable to meet the needs of our family and help our children reach their fullest potential. Giving our all involves an everyday price of personal sacrifice, discipline, personal growth, willpower, consistency and perseverance. We push past exhaustion, discouragement, regressions, illness, sleep deprivation, ignorance and our own fears, knowing that God will be our strength and the end result will be greater than the struggle. We do all of these things in faith that we will reap a great reward in the lives of our children. There is no greater joy for the mother of an autistic child than to see her child triumph in spite of whatever difficulty has held them back. To us, there are no such things as "small gains", every step forward is a precious gift that is never taken for granted.
You may have noticed that the mom I just described sounds more like a superhero than a regular person and is expected to have strength beyond what most people can fathom. We have to lean and rely fully and completely on God to renew our strength, guide us and provide for all that we need to do this important job. When we do this, we will have the strength to keep going when we feel we can't and can endure until we see our reward. On page 64, Joyce reminds us: The Bible says that when we wait on God our strength is renewed as the eagle (see Isaiah 40:31). To wait on God means to expect Him to do what needs to be done, to lean on and rely on Him. We must make personal decisions to press through, but we never experience success in anything unless we are relying on God to help us.
Making Right Choices Anyway: This stuck out to me personally as a key to being able to push past obstacles. This is a matter of discipline and discernment that I am learning about in my own life so that I don't get stuck or tempted to give up when adversity or trials set in. On pages 65-66, Joyce identifies the need to push through obstacles of every kind, those that are physical or tangible and those that are unseen. A common thread in the other characteristics she identifies: balance, discipline, consistency and not settling is in the way we make our choices. Regardless of how we feel, we have to make godly choices in our conduct and attitude, especially when it is difficult (and also when it's "justifiable" not to). This often means making the "harder" choice. Joyce reminds us on page 63 that "When we do what we know is right when it is difficult, uncomfortable or inconvenient, we grow spiritually and we are strengthened. We may have to do what is right for a long time before we feel it is 'paying off', but if we stay faithful and refuse to give up, good results will come."
"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
"but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint." -Isaiah 40:31
"He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit."-Jeremiah 17:8
"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." -Romans 12: 1-2