Packing boxes has become somewhat of a hobby for me in the last few years. It started when I helped move my oldest daughter to college. The following year my dad passed away, and I helped my mom with the task of cleaning out their home. My daughter moved every year in college, and my second daughter also moved off to college. Boxes, bubble wrap, and packing tape were staples in our home. Then we decided to move as well. Boxes upon boxes. Packing and unpacking. My hands were dry and cracked for about five years, and it was all so monotonous. Packing boxes was depressing for me. It signified a move, a loss, or a change of some kind. I learned to persevere, and not always with a good attitude.
You may be experiencing the same thing. What are your boxes? Are you constantly trying to keep your small group engaged? Do you move from in-person meetings to Zoom, then back to in-person or Zoom depending upon the week and the restrictions? Do you ever wonder if it is really worth it to lead when you are required to change so often, and it sometimes seems like there is no progress? What are the benefits of persevering through these hard seasons of leadership?
Eventually I learned to experience joy in the midst of perseverance. There were lessons learned, and although I may not have enjoyed every moment, there was joy in what those boxes signified.
- Sometimes the smallest and seemingly insignificant change does lead to something greater. All my daughters moved into a different dorm or place to live every year. Every year. With three daughters, that means we are up to at least a dozen moves including all the boxes. Honestly, I’ve lost count. They don’t own a lot, but the packing continues. The beauty in each of those moves has been the realization that my girls are maturing and growing into who Christ created them to be. They are experiencing life—learning to adapt, connecting with others, and discovering new things. In ministry it can be much the same way. The consistent plan to meet or Zoom for Bible study may not draw in everyone, but it will provide a safe place for many to grow and learn. As crazy as it sounds, the challenges with Zoom Bible study have provided a way for new moms, shut-ins, and those with illnesses or conflicts to stay engaged. In the middle of your perseverance to lead others to Christ and to Bible study, there is joy in seeing the fruit. No matter how small the growth appears, it is spiritual growth. So keep persevering. Maintain that steadfastness for Bible study. It is important for believers to stay engaged in the church—for worship, for Bible study, for community, and for spiritual health.
- Doing the right thing is sometimes difficult and hard work. Packing boxes after my dad’s death was a challenging task. There were so many memories, especially for my mom. At times, the sense of loss was overwhelming. How do you take a lifetime of memories and know what to keep and what to discard? But it is the right thing to do for the family. Someone needs to gather that which is meaningful.
I’ve found the same to be true in my walk with the Lord. Staying true to spiritual disciplines like prayer, Bible study, Scripture reading, and quiet time is not always easy. So many things distract us and pull at us that take our time and attention. Developing regular spiritual habits, like packing and moving boxes, may feel mundane at times. I know I’ve asked, How long do I continue to pray for this situation? But I know 1 Thessalonians 5:17 directs me to “pray constantly” (CSB), and so that is what I do. Committing to lead or attend a Bible study, reaching out to that same woman, or planning for the group when you are not sure who will show is challenging. It takes work. And I always have that nagging frustration when women don’t commit. I’ve pushed myself to find the joy in those who attend, those who engage, and those who are growing. I can’t allow those who miss out to hinder what God is doing with those who are present. Remember that oftentimes the hard work becomes evident in the end. At the end of the Bible study with the ones who remained faithful to the end, you get to experience the joy of all that they’ve learned and how God has moved among you. There is joy along the way even when the situation or circumstances are difficult.
- There is reward and joy in perseverance. It may not be what you were expecting, but endurance does bring its own sense of accomplishment. Packing and moving boxes eventually allows you to empty them. At some point it does stop. The project is finished. And isn’t that how it is in the Christian life as we walk with Jesus? We move from one phase or season of life to another finding joy in the moments and remaining steadfast through the sometimes overwhelming and difficult. Living life with Christ calls us into a deep joy that often cannot be explained. We persevere in faith, discovering hidden gems of truth, mercy, compassion, and love along the way. We remember the reward of eternal life that will bring the greatest joy and end our need to endure or persevere through trials. Your effort to continue as a faithful woman of God despite difficulties, failure, or opposition will be rewarded.
Mighty women of God, “Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing” (Jas. 1:2-4, CSB). Whether it is sticking with that Bible reading plan, memorizing that Scripture verse, gathering other women for Bible study, making the phone call, sending that text, or any other number of things that you do to minister to other women, stay strong in your faith, keep packing and unpacking the boxes as needed, and find the joy in perseverance. Great is your reward!
Michelle Hicks is the managing editor for Journey devotional magazine with Lifeway Women. Michelle served as a freelance writer, campus minister, and corporate chaplain before coming to Lifeway. She is a graduate of the University of North Texas and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Michelle has a deep hunger for God’s Word and wants others to discover the abundant life they can have with Jesus as their Lord and Savior.