Over the past few weeks I have been dealing with a medical issue that seems to be a mystery. To this point my pain cannot be diagnosed, yet it increases. This unknown can be frustrating, even frightening at times, yet in the midst of it I am learning a great deal about myself, those who love me, and my faith.
Amidst every doctor visit, each test, and repeated pokes of needles there is only one (here on earth) who truly knows what is going on inside my body. That person is me. I have to do everything I can to help others understand what I am feeling and narrow down what the cause may be. I must be my own advocate and continue to press on until someone listens enough to help me. I must persevere.
“continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition.” (Miriam Webster Dictionary)
I think of others who persevere and am humbled at the thought of what they face. Every day people face cancer treatments, learn to live without limbs, lose their jobs or homes and figure out how to survive and support a family. Some face incredible odds to start the business of their dreams. When I felt sorry for myself because I had to fast for 2 days before a test I was jolted back to reality with the fact that when the test was over I could eat whatever I wanted while others go without food for many days at a time, not knowing where their next meal is coming from. Amazing perseverance.
I’ve also been reminded that perseverance is biblical.
Romans 5 reminds us of the reward for our perseverance:
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 3:3-5
The book of Luke recounts a story Jesus told of a man who had a guest in his home late at night. He had nothing to feed him so he went to a friend’s home at midnight asking for bread. The friend tells him to go away and yet Jesus says…
“I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your perseverance he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.
“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”
On this Holy Thursday, as we enter Easter weekend we remember the day Jesus spent preparing for the last meal He would eat with His disciples before His death. Throughout the day Jesus tried to explain to them what was to come – of His imminent betrayal and eventual death. His disciples didn’t get it. Jesus washed their feet, explained to them about serving others, and asked them to join Him as He prayed in the garden. He never gave up trying to teach them of God’s love for them.
When evening came Jesus gave us such a beautiful, yet heart wrenching picture of perseverance. Jesus knew He was about to be betrayed, then executed. He had lived a perfect life. In all His interactions with those who opposed Him Jesus never sinned. Yet He would be ridiculed and hung on a cross to die the most painful death for all people who believe that He is Lord and Savior. His heart must have been so heavy, yet He persevered.
Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane that evening to pray for God’s will. Matthew’s gospel tells us that Jesus prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” He didn’t receive an answer so He prayed again, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” Jesus prayed a third time in the same manner, persevering for an answer from His Father for what He was facing.
The outcome of Jesus’ perseverance was not His deliverance from the coming ridicule and death. It was not what He desired but for Him it was more important for God to be glorified than for Him to be comfortable. And because Jesus persevered and completed the purpose for which His Father sent him to earth we reap countless blessings. Every year as we remember Jesus’ sacrifice for us we are reminded that if He had not persevered through His times of tribulation we would not have the gift of eternity in Heaven with Him.
Each one of us has challenges to work through and overcome. While yours may not seem significant to the world it is significant to you, therefore it also matters to God. Whatever you are facing as you read this I pray for your perseverance. Don’t give up – on yourself, a solution, and especially your faith that God will bring good out of your circumstances. And as you persevere remember that through Jesus’ gift of salvation we can have the blessing of peace that passes all understanding.
I echo the words of the book of Hebrews and pray it encourages you today:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3
Blessings and peace to you…