On Resistance: Persistence and Striking the Rock for God’s Kingdom

There is a quote that summarizes the battle to persist. Every day we wake on the earth, humans will face resistance in some form or another. Every day, we go back to striking the proverbial rock as outlined in said quote from Jacob Riis:

Look at a stone cutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred-and-first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not the last blow that did it, but all that had gone before.”

The question I want to pose for you here: how many times have you struck the rock?

No matter our respective life and work journeys, there are different kinds of rocks we all wish to crack.

  • We hammer away for vocational clarity.
  • We hammer away for breakthrough in marriage.
  • We hammer away to achieve our fitness goals.
  • We hammer away to earn that promotion at work.
  • We hammer away so others might feel proud about us.
  • We hammer away so we might feel proud of ourselves.

No matter the thing you’re currently hammering away at, how many blows have you dealt thus far?

Doubting Along the Way

The key to answering that question is to first understand: we have no idea how many blows we’re on. In other words, we could be working on number 79 of 100, or maybe we just started our journey—we’ve only dealt 3 of 100 blows.

But according to the Riis quote, it’s the 101st blow that the rock finally split.

Now, rest assured, you could be VERY WELL be on your 95th or 99th blow with someone or something. No matter how many times we’ve struck a rock, the one guarantee is that we will all feel doubt along the way. That doubt will lead to questions about giving up, and that “giving up” part is the reason I felt compelled to write this post.

In short: you can’t give up.

Here’s why.

Resistance is Doubt on Steroids

The doubt I speak of is only one way to put it.

Steven Pressfield in his wonderful book, The War of Art, talks about a greater force at play: Resistance.

“Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.” -Pressfield

Earlier in this post, I mentioned how each of us faces resistance everyday we wake up on earth. That force will do everything in its power to prevent us from doing the work set before us. Once we recognize resistance for what it is—a mere hindrance masked as a mountain—we can then sit in the chair and get to work.

Although not explicitly faith-based, Pressfield’s description of Resistance often heralds an air of spiritual warfare for those following Christ.

On Work for God’s Kingdom

It’s worth noting, in Riis’s quote, that he never talks about the strength or force of the stone cutter’s blow. He simply mentions the persistence through which the stone cutter works. The stone cutter needs not hammer harder or get a new hammer. The stone cutter is merely doing his job, quietly and with faithfulness, before the rock eventually splits.

When Jesus came to earth, he faithfully woke up each day and struck the rock with his hammer—he never did too much or two little when completing a good work for God's Kingdom.

If you feel, today, as if you’ve been striking the rock over and over without seeing any results, just know that maybe it will remain that way for a few more months or even years.

Are you OK with that? Or do you desire to see the thing split NOW.

What’s more: are you OK even if you never see the rock split at all? Maybe you offer 37 blows and someone steps in after you’re gone to finish the rest?

No matter how the rock splits, all that matters is that you show up each day to hammer.

That’s how you overcome doubt. That’s how you persist. That’s how you tell Resistance to kick rocks.