My sister-in-law ran a 50 mile race a few weeks ago. That accomplishment fills me with respect. At the end of the race I have no doubt that she was gleeful at the victory, exhausted, but happy. Such an achievement of dedication cannot happen without perseverance. This example is very visual and overt. There are other people in my life right now with a less tangible picture of the necessity for endurance. I think of my son who is learning to walk, my daughter who is learning to read.
The baby needs perseverance to get up after the umpteenth time he has fallen down trying to walk. Talitha needs it when the next word is new and seems impossible to sound out.
And I need it every day when I come to the end of my ability to be patient, kind, polite, not envious and so on.
I don’t think of perseverance when I’m in it; the difficult day or waiting for an answer or decision to be made. Instead, I pray for comfort, I pray for support, I pray for it to be taken away. To be sure, none of those things are wrong to pray. But, I don’t pray for perseverance. Praying for that would be acknowledging that whatever the seemingly insurmountable situation is, will stay for longer than I want it to. The more I think about everyday life, the more I think about how perseverance is needed. My daughter is learning to read or James is learning to walk. These things take time, mistakes, trying again, and practice. Those things aren’t even a matter of eternity. How much more do we, do I, need perseverance in living a life “worthy of the call that you have received” (Ephesians 4:1).
I’ve often read passages in the Bible about perseverance and thought backward on what God has brought me through. On the other hand, I think about how I will need to persevere in the future, but very few times that I can think of have I thought “What do I need perseverance for right now?” “What do I need it for so that I don’t give up? “ “In what way is God building perseverance in me currently?”
I desperately need perseverance in parenting. Especially, when Jim has long hours at work and I don’t know what time he is coming home. Or even more when he is traveling and I am alone with the kids with no one to break my fall. It hasn’t been until recent weeks that I’ve recognized this. I’ve thought of these as bothersome, unproductive times. The opposite is true. Of all the times in my life these hard uncomfortable times should be the most joyful and productive.
Now, let me be more honest and say not only do I not pray for perseverance but when I do see that I’m going to have to go through something difficult I clench my fists and command my own independence and strength to rise up. Though it may appear that they succeed, they both fail. There may be anger, doubt, or pride in my heart, well hidden from any onlooker, but naked before a holy God. He has not left us to our failure. He provides. Colossians 1:11 says, “May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy.” Like the runner who finishes or the baby who finally learns to walk, so too will we endure by His power alone. The suffering and endurance are not in vain either. They produce something worth far more than an independent victory.
Hope is grown in the heart soiled with suffering and watered with perseverance.