I have been hard-pressed lately. Thankfully by God’s grace I can say, like Paul, I am not crushed. But, I am ever-more determined to press onward towards those goals put before me. (2 Corinthians 4:8)
~My friend Martha encouraged me with words about perseverance. I asked her to put pen to paper so you may be encouraged too. In whatever way you are feeling hard-pressed today, may you know that goodness and faithfulness are at your back prodding you forward. ~Nicol
Perseverance is a noun; it is something we possess, a character trait. It’s not a verb, not something we do, though persevering is the verb form and is what we do when we have perseverance. But, perseverance is something we have because of or in spite of difficult circumstances. It’s possessing the drive and motivation to move forward and through, not avoiding or giving up, but continuing, despite obstacles and setbacks.
Perseverance will look different depending on the difficulty: for the athlete trying to perfect his form it will be physical perseverance; for the student it could be physical (remember those late nights and the exhaustion the next day?) as well as mental; in relationships it will be emotional.
Suffering and difficulty provoke perseverance, but the reason we persevere—persist through the difficulty—is because of hope. We expect a positive outcome on the other side of our difficulty. It’s not just about finishing a task or completing a course of action, but it is about what we expect to gain because of our working through it.
Whether it is the hope of a college degree at the end of an arduous course of study, or the hope of establishing a successful career and financial security through long work weeks, or persevering through cancer treatments in hopes of putting it in remission, most of us encounter circumstances at some point in our lives in which we need to persevere. We find our strength to carry on through the hope we have. Without hope we give up or give in, we turn back or leave.
If you are a Christian you accepted, through faith, the forgiveness of your sins and the hope of heaven through trust in the work of Jesus Christ. This temporal life is not our ultimate hope but is the place for perseverance, for building our character, testing our faith and joining in God’s work. We are exhorted to rejoice in this process because of the hope we do share. Jesus endured the cross for the [hope of the] joy set before him. His hope and joy was not only heaven but our salvation and His glory. His life was lived as an example of perseverance for us; his death was endured for the propitiation of our sins.
There is much mystery in the ways of God and why He designed life and death and sacrifice to be the way to salvation and heaven and glory. Our faith and His Word tell us that perseverance is needed to “be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing”. If you have lived through trials I am sure you can attest to the work of perseverance in your life. The rewards are not always tangible but seated in our souls and evident in our character.
How much more can we hope for on the other side of this life? This is what we cling to: “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I [Jesus] have overcome the world.”
(Consider these scripture about perseverance: Hebrews 10:32-39; James 1:2-4; Romans 5:1-6)