At times we all must face difficulties, disappointments, discouragement, and dead ends as well as have to deal with hurts, habits, hang-ups, and heartaches. When these occur, sometimes in bunches, and seemingly relentlessly, we can be tempted to throw our hands up, give up, and give in to our ever-present, ever-pressing opponent called life.
If there ever was a man who had to deal with life in the raw and from whom we can gain encouragement amid our struggles, it is the American hero, Abraham Lincoln.
As a young man from an impoverished background and hardscrabble existence, Lincoln dreamed of a better life for himself than he had known growing up. When he was seven years old, his family was forced out of their home on a legal technicality, and he had to work to help support them. At age nine, his mother died. At 22, he lost his job as a store clerk. He wanted to go to law school, but his education was not good enough. At 23, he went into debt to become a partner in a small store with a man who later became an alcoholic. At 26, his first love, Ann Rutledge, died most likely of typhoid fever. About the same time, his business partner died, leaving him a huge debt that took him more than a decade to repay. Lincoln then began courting a girl for several years, and when he asked her to marry him, she said no. He later was a captain in a volunteer army in the Black Hawk War. By the war’s end he had achieved the rank of private. He had been demoted!
Lincoln later went into politics and studied law. At the age of 37, and on his third try, he was elected to Congress, but two years later he failed to be reelected. At 45, he ran for the Senate and lost. At 47, he failed as the vice-presidential candidate. At 49, he ran for the Senate again, and lost. At 51, he was elected the sixteenth president of the United States.
Along the way, Lincoln was a victim of relentless and tragic sorrow. Three of his four children died in childhood. His wife, Mary, may have been affected by mental illness, and he himself is believed to have suffered from what we would now call clinical depression. But through it all, Lincoln believed God had a purpose for all he went through and that God was in control of his life.
Being an avid Shakespeare fan, his favorite quote, in keeping with God’s sovereign control, came from Hamlet: “There is a divinity that shapes our ends, roughhew (cut or shape crudely) them as we may.” As such, even though Abraham Lincoln died tragically yet heroically, he never gave in or gave up, accomplishing God’s assigned mission and fulfilling God’s purpose for him to the end.
Hey believer! Like Abraham Lincoln, God does not want you to give up or give in amid whatever you are facing at the present time or in the future. Here are five reasons why?
- God promises to reward you if you hang in there – 2 Chron. 15:7: “But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.”
- God promises to strengthen you in your struggle – 2 Cor. 12:9: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
- God promises to fight for you against your enemy – Exod. 14:14: “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
- God promises to never abandon you in your hardship – Deut. 31:6b: “. . . the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
- God promises good will ultimately come from your adversity – Rom. 8:28: “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.”
So, stay the course for Christ come what will. Who knows, if you do so, you may go down in history as another honest Abe.
Think about it!