Hammer Swings and Enduring Faith

“There are some spiritual conditions that cannot be accomplished in a moment. The breaking up of the fallow ground takes time. The frosts of winter are necessary as the rains of spring to prepare the soil for fertility. God has to break our hearts to pieces by the slow process of his discipline, and grind every particle to powder, and then to mellow us and saturate us with his blessed Spirit until we are open for the blessing he has to give us.”

A. B. Simpson

When I was a teacher, one of our students was required to complete a community service project. He chose to repair a broken section of a sidewalk on campus. To pour the fresh cement would require breaking up the old, uneven section. When I showed up to help the team, they handed me a sledgehammer to begin breaking the concrete.

Swinging the hammer high, I slammed the head against the hard surface and felt my teeth snap together as a chip of stone grazed my cheek. Again and again I swung and connected the hammer with the sidewalk. The section of concrete was very thick, and swing after swing the slab looked quite the same.

As I continued hammering away, I heard one of the project volunteers say, “Nothing is happening.”

“Oh, it is happening,” another said. “Just watch.”

A few more swings. A few more high-pitched pings rang out.

Then, without warning, at a blow just like all the others, came a deep, cavernous thump as a network of wide, spiderweb fractures formed in an instant. “Well, looks like you finally hit it hard enough,” the first volunteer remarked.

What he did not understand was that the breaking had been taking place all along deep inside the concrete. Fissure after unseen fissure snaked through the structure of that slab, and when enough of them met up, at that final moment, everything gave way.

You never know how close you may be to a breakthrough. You may be moments from a movement of God. You could be standing on the threshold of an answer to a long-awaited prayer.

We give up all too soon.

What if Naaman, leprosy-riddled, had washed in the muddy Jordan River only twice because he decided that seven times was too many (2 Kings 5)?

What if Joshua had stopped at the third trip around Jericho (Joshua 6)?

What if Elijah had prayed but six times and then assumed that the rain would not come (1 Kings 18:41-45)?

What if you give up now?


Paul writes to the churches in Galatia: “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9). Don’t give up. Don’t stop short. You may be one hammer swing from a breakthrough. You may not see what is happening below the surface. You may not know how God is connecting details to answer your prayer. You may not understand what is happening in the slow turning within a hard heart. We must remain faithfully obedient to God whether his work is obvious or not.

Keep washing.

Keep marching.

Keep praying.

Keep swinging.

When God accomplishes his perfect breaking, you will see your breakthrough.

Pray that…

Our faith would increase, not diminish, in times of difficulty. – Proverbs 24:10 If you falter in the day of distress, how small is your strength!

We would abound in the work of God because we understand that all things we do for him, no matter how small, have value. – 1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

We will look at Jesus as our example for how to endure faithfully when facing trouble. – Hebrews 12:3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

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