Wow! My heart is so full! There is so much I want to tell you, but my thoughts are coming so fast that I have to take a deep breath and really concentrate to untangle them!
Within the next month, I hope to tell you all that God has done recently (yep, I’m leaving that teaser right there!).
But today, let’s talk about perseverance. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines perseverance this way: a “continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition.” Notice that little word ‘despite’ makes all the difference in the world when one is trying to understand the meaning of perseverance.
When we push through difficulties in our life to achieve our goals, we are preserving. Some days we are just trying to get through the daily routine of the house –preparing meals, getting the kids off to school, or surviving an eight-hour work day. Other times we are dealing with some really heavy stuff –guilt, depression, rejection, loss.
I would love to tell you there is an easier way through this mental stress, but unfortunately I can’t. However, I can encourage you that if you are walking with Jesus, He has your back!
For lessons in working through difficulties, we can turn to the apostle Paul who knew a few things about having a bad day.
I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 2 Cor. 11:23-28 NIV
Most days, Paul’s tribulations make mine look like child’s play. But there are those who are certainly suffering, certainly preserving despite some really troubling situations. So what advice does Paul give?
And not only this, but [with joy] let us exult in our sufferings and rejoice in our hardships, knowing that hardship (distress, pressure, trouble) produces patient endurance; and endurance, proven character (spiritual maturity); and proven character, hope and confident assurance [of eternal salvation]. Rom. 5:3-4 AMP
I believe that Paul reveals the different levels of perseverance in this verse. So let’s take a few minutes to really break it down.
No, no real difficulty goes away over night. But as we persevere through the situation, we change. And as we change, we become stronger.
As I went through the chaos that interrupted my life between 2008-2013, there were days I certainly felt defeated. There were days I bawled my eyes out. But day after day, I learned to persevere. When I could finally see the situation for what it was -a smoke screen meant to throw me off course- I realized there were options. I could either let it defeat me or I could turn the tables and become all that God wanted me to be. When that clicked, I was then able to patiently endure all the ups and downs that came. As I grew up spiritually, my faith rose to new heights. And as hope took a hold of my heart, I knew there was no turning back.
Since then, there have been other challenges, but I now face them with great confidence because Jesus is my hope!
I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Ps. 16:8 NIV
Is there a challenge in front of you today? Are you preserving? If not, turn to the One who can show you how!
Amplified Bible (AMP), Copyright © 2015 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA 90631. All rights reserved.
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.