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When Hard Work Doesn’t Seem to be Paying Off

The truth is, I knew this was coming. I knew this journey would be hard. But I’m not opposed to hard. I’m the daughter of a hard-working entrepreneur. I was a competitive gymnast. I struggled in school, but I worked hard to graduate from college with honors. Now, I coach competitive gymnasts. The saying “hard work pays off” is the well-worn anthem of my life.

In my head it’s hard work is part of an equation that should always be true.

Carrie’s equation for achieving success

1 goal + a well thought out plan + hard work executing the plan = Success in achieving the goal!

But what happens when I put in the hard work, and I seem to be no closer to the goal than when I started?

My tight grip on the belief in this equation has caused confusion more than once in my life. And this is one of those confusing times.

Honestly, when I depend on my “hard work pays off” anthem, I convince myself that I am the one in control. I want to believe that my success is 100% dependent on my efforts.

The problem is, my “equation” leaves out several factors –

· Other people

· Unforeseen circumstances

· Most importantly – God’s plan!

I often assume that if God has called me to do something, it should happen like my equation. But life doesn’t usually work like that.

Obedience is not a neat math equation. Obedience is step by step trusting that God has a plan and a purpose for each moment of the process. It’s choosing to have faith that each tear, each disappointment, each set-back, and each inch of the journey is part of his plan.

If we desire to obey God’s call, what do we do when we feel disappointed because our hard work is simply not enough?

First , we need to recognize that our hard work is in fact inadequate. Because if we rely only on our own efforts, we leave God’s plan and purpose out of the equation. He is the one in control.

Second, we must remember - disappointment doesn’t equal defeat.

When we feel disappointed, we need to take the time to talk to our Savior about that disappointment. Then allow HIM to pick us up, dust us off, arm us with his strength and guide our steps. Then we keep our eyes on the One who called us, not on the goal he has called us to. He knows the way because he is the way maker.

Maybe whatever the challenge, we can focus on growing closer to God in the journey, not simply focus on the finish line? Maybe we can learn to value his plan and purpose more than we value our own hard hard?

God’s word is full of encouragement. Here are a couple scriptures God keeps encouraging me with during this season.

“Stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58

“It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way clear.” Psalm 18:32

“He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ.” Philippians 1:6



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