Ah, Perseverance. A quality I’ve struggled with all my life. In the Merriam-Webster dictionary, perseverance is defined as: the quality that allows someone to continue trying to do something even though it is difficult. My Grandma might have called it ‘stick-to-it-tive-ness’.
Why is it so hard to keep going? Why is it so hard to muster up the strength to complete the task well, the compassion to listen to one more story, the patience to help one more student, to hold my tongue one more time? C.S. Lewis understood this dilemma when he writes,
I think that many of us, when Christ has enabled us to overcome one or two sins that were an obvious nuisance, are inclined to feel (though we do not put it into words) that we are now good enough. He has done all we wanted him to do, and we should be obliged if he would now leave us alone. As we say, “I never expected to be a saint, I only wanted to be a decent ordinary chap.” And we imagine that when we say this we are being humble. But this is a fatal mistake. Of course we never wanted, and never asked, to be made into the sort of creatures he is going to make us into. But the question is not what we intended ourselves to be, but what he intended us to be when he made us. (emphasis mine).
The reality is perseverance is hard because of my humanity, my sinfulness, my enjoyment of happiness, and my resistance to holiness. If it was all up to me, I would be quite content to be done with this whole “new creature” thing. But, praise God, it is not up to me! Jesus has promised that the good work he began in me, will be completed. (Phil. 1:6)
1 John 3:2-3 reminds and encourages: But friends, that’s exactly who we are: children of God. And that’s only the beginning. Who knows how we’ll end up! What we know is that when Christ is openly revealed, we’ll see him–and in seeing him, become like him. All of us who look forward to his coming stay ready, with the glistening purity of Jesus’ life as a model for our own.
Jesus is our model for perseverance . . . what did he do when he was weary and tired of the crowds always asking for more of His miracles and teaching? We know he did get tired (John 4:5-7) and he did try to get away with his disciples, by himself, but the crowds always seemed to find Him (Mark 6:30-33). Did Jesus say, “Come back later! Not now!” Did he ever say, “Enough! I quit, this is too hard!” No, Mark writes, When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like a sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things. (Mark 6:34)
How did he keep going when his strength was gone? Luke reveals Jesus’ secret to perseverance . . . but Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. (Luke 5:16)
Prayer . . . we are reminded of it often because it, along with God’s Word, is our main source of strength. I cannot just “will” myself to keep going; daily, hourly, I need to cry out to him and say, “I want to quit, Jesus, because life is too hard, this task is too long, please teach me to persevere and look forward to being, not merely happy, but joyful and holy.”
Prayer: Forgive me, most gracious Lord and Father, if this day I have done or said anything to increase the pain of the world. Pardon the unkind word, the impatient gesture, the hard and selfish deed, the failure to show sympathy and kindly help where I had the opportunity, but missed it; and enable me so to live that I may daily do something to lessen the tide of human sorrow, and add to the sum of human happiness. (F.B. Meyer 1847-1929)
Contributed by Heather Armour