STRIVE /strʌɪv/ – make great efforts to achieve or obtain something.
I like how God sets up appointments with us to open doors for us in ways we can never fathom. He is good and this truth should remain foundational in our lives.
Striving and self-reliance – and what I like to term the “lie of meritocracy” is at the very heart of a humanism – a philosophy and way of thinking that is diametrically opposed to the centrality of God in our lives. It is subtle and yet it exists – just recall the phrases you have seen on social media – “work hard, work smart and you will succeed”, “I’d rather hustle 24/7 than slave 9 to 5.”
While it is not wrong to be diligent, recognising that diligence can only follow-through from God’s positioning makes all the difference. Just think about it – no matter how hard some people work, they end up with struggling to make things. They work from pay cheque to pay cheque and are constantly anxious whether they can make rent or foot the next food bill.
This may all sound like some prep talk to a success seminar but it is not. The reason why social media is replete with tons of motivational quotes, speakers, resources is because people are all out there seeking for answers to get out of the daily struggle. And while all these contents are good, they may be missing the main point – where is God in the entire equation?
Let’s just bring in some biblical examples to get a sense of where it landed for these folks. We seldom talk about Saul because for those of us who have read his life story, it didn’t turn our very well for him. His major mess ups at the early stages of his royalty led him to eventually commit suicide in the battlefield. But did you know that he was in no uncertain terms, still made king, albeit for a short run?
That day when he was anointed king in 1 Samuel 9, Saul was just going about a common day activity – looking for his father’s donkeys. There was nothing really spectacular nor kingly about chasing donkeys around.
How about David? He was just minding his own business as a shepherd boy. He did not ask to be king. His thoughts were probably filled with songs that he would write and play on his harp, and finding better ways to defending his sheep from predators.
Now, let’s put both their stories together as their pathways crossed at some juncture. It was only when Saul realised that David was going to be the next king that he started to strive instead of going with the flow of where God was leading. This strive eventually led to his disgraceful departure.
This is a fatal consequence of a strive – when things are handled in our strength and effort outside of His positioning, favour and grace, thinking that we might just be able to attain what our hearts set out to achieve.
Where are you at – at this juncture in the midst of a global pandemic that has decimated economies and individual lives at large?
What are you striving to achieve? Where are you striving to arrive at?
Land a dream job? Start a multi-million dollar business? Achieve financial freedom in 3 years? All these goals sound “good”, but let’s take a step back and begin with the place of surrender because as the verses in Psalms 127 say:
“Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— for He gives to His beloved even in His sleep.” (New American Standard Bible)
Striving/Self-reliance comes because we do not understand or yield to His ways