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Combat the Temptation to Give Up

  • FR. NNAMDI MONEME

"It’s all over." This is the debilitating message that we sense in our commitments when we face difficult and trying times and the future seems so bleak and hopeless.


CrossWindowPhoto by Mateus Campos Felipe on Unsplash.

We have no idea how we are going to overcome the present situation and move on in life. We feel that things can never change and that we are condemned to a life of fear and desperation. We feel like giving up in our relationships.

Sadly, we hardly stop and reflect on where this negative message is coming from. We hardly face and rebuke this message but allow it to linger in our hearts and minds to the point that we are overcome with our emotions. Thus, we begin to waver and succumb in our commitments to God and to others.

We also forget the truth that God's word is always effective in our lives. "So shall my words be that goes forth from my mouth; my word shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I send it." (Is 55:10-11) It is never over when it comes to God's words because His purpose will be fulfilled in us if we do not resist Him. His words, calling us to do His will and commit to Him and to others, cannot lose their efficacy or pass away. "Heaven and earth will pass away but my words will not pass away" (Mt 24:35).

Speaking about bearing fruit in Mt 13:1-23, Jesus lists three things that can stop His seed from bearing fruit in our lives. These three things can also be sources for that "It's all over" message. Thus, for us to bear fruit in our commitments, we must constantly cultivate certain virtues to help us deal with these sources of negative messages.

Firstly, the devil can tempt us into thinking that it is all over by hindering us from hearing, understanding, and applying the word of God to our lives. "The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the kingdom without understanding it, and the evil one comes and steals away what is sown in his heart."

The devil highlights our past failures and the scandalous actions of others to convince us that it is useless for us to ponder deeply the word of God. He shows us the universal rebellion against God and His words in our times to kill any desire we have to be faithful to God's words. He will highlight the challenges that come with fidelity to God's words to dissuade us from even trying to do God's will. The devil will make us see only the flaws of those we are committed to and not their strengths and goodness.

We can counter the lies and deceptions of the devil through cultivating a spirit of prayerful vigilance. Jesus asked for this at Gethsemane when the disciples felt that all was lost, "Watch and pray that you may not be put to the test." (Mt 26:41) In prayerful vigilance, we can grasp the truth of God's words and receive grace to reject the lies of the devil and keep the word of God.

Secondly, the "it's all over" message can come from our present trials and difficulties. "The seed sown on rocky ground is the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy. But he has no roots and lasts only for a time. When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, he immediately falls away."

We counter despair by cultivating a spirit of prayerful vigilance, cultivating perseverance and courage, and mortifying our imaginations.

We counter the negative message from our trials by cultivating perseverance and courage. Let the words of St. Paul to the Romans ring deep in our hearts, "Brothers and sisters: I consider the sufferings of this present as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us." St. Paul calls us to persevere through the present trials into a divinely guaranteed joy and glory. Contrary to the disheartening message, our present suffering and pain do not mean that our commitment is over or useless; they are but preludes to a glorious and fulfilling joy if only we persevere.

Our commitment to Jesus and to His words can never be over because we have the Spirit of God in us now. He guides us and helps us to persevere through the present moment of groaning. "We ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies." (Rom 8:18-23) In addition to being children of God by the Spirit of adoption, we must also persevere in bearing fruit in our commitment and not give up for any reason.

Lastly, the discouraging message can come from our anxious thoughts. "The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word, but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word, and it bears no fruit." These anxious thoughts, when left unchecked, snuffs the life out of the seed of God's words.

We counter this source of negativity by mortifying our imagination. We sometimes imagine things that are improbable and then believe them completely. We can imagine a gloomy situation to the point that we lose all hope for our future. A person with an uncontrolled imagination will surely buy into the lie that his or her commitment to the Lord is over and can never be renewed and deepened.

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, many have bought into the lie that their commitments to Jesus and to others in marriage, priesthood, religious life, ministry, etc., are over. Maybe they are going through difficult times, or they just cannot see visible results in these commitments. Many are haunted by past failures and mistakes or even fear of what the future may bring. When they buy into this lie, for whatever reason, they cease to bear fruit in the kingdom of God and thus they cannot experience the joy belonging to this kingdom of God.

The good news is that Jesus never gives up on us. He never takes back or takes away from His commitment to us. He comes to us in each Eucharist to unite Himself with us and to give us all the graces that we need. He asks us to remain in Him as He remains in us because "apart from Him we can do nothing." (Jn 15:5) He never stops planting His ever-effective seeds in us. He also shares with us His own attitude when we are tempted to quit in our commitments.

Through Him, with Him, and in Him, our commitments to Him and to others can and should endure.

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Acknowledgement

FrNnamdiMonemeFr. Nnamdi Moneme. "Combat the Temptation to Give Up." Catholic Exchange (July 20, 2023).

Reprinted with permission from Catholic Exchange.

The Author

Fr. Nnamdi Moneme OMV is a Roman Catholic Priest of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary currently on missionary assignment in the Philippines. He serves in the Congregations' Retreat Ministry and in the House of Formation for novices and theologians in Antipolo, Philippines. He blogs at www.toquenchhisthirst.wordpress.com.

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