This year has been a time of perseverance for me.
What is interesting about perseverance is that most of the time it is a choice. The desire to quit and give up and stop toiling is right there and much more attractive than persevering through hardship, suffering, and uncertainty.
Really, what is there to gain from perseverance?
On the surface, nothing. At the moment, pain is most likely still present, deep challenges and obstacles appear stacked up and never ending. There doesn’t seem to be any way for this pain and these challenges to dissipate or to improve. This is why perseverance is a choice, because circumstances often present a clear path to immediate ease of pain and relief from suffering. Yet, many of us choose perseverance! Why should we? What prompts us to think that being long sufferers or steadfast is going to get us anything? Shouldn’t we just cut our losses and find a new path?
The Bible doesn’t see perseverance as something to avoid but to embrace. In fact, perseverance seems to be an essential part of our Growing Up. Paul, in a letter to the Christians in Rome, says that we should “glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” James uses even more elaborate language. He says, “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”
If we are to believe these great men of God and writers of his holy scriptures, then character, hope, blessing, and some kind of great honor known as the crown of life is promised to those who persevere under suffering. Truth be told, if you began to analyze characters from the Bible you would find story after story of perseverance and endurance in their faith. From Abraham to John, one of the great themes of the Bible is how true faith in God is tested and strengthened through perseverance.
These reminders illustrate to me that I hinder my growth and maturity in my Christian life when I refuse to persevere. If I choose not to persevere, then I could be choosing to miss out on all that Christ has in store for me.
So, I need to sacrifice my current comfort, my near pleasures, and my quick fixes for the promise of abiding joy, strength of character, and anticipated good outcome sometime in the future. This is hard work, and some days I don’t think I have it in me, but I feel called to persevere to obtain the best that God has to offer.
What are you being called to persevere in?