A few weeks ago, I talked about diligence – and I contrasted it with perseverance. We saw how diligence was forming a lifestyle: taking small, daily, seemingly insignificant steps that make us who we are. Perseverance, on the other hand, was something different, and that’s what we’re going to talk about today in Part 7 of our series: Building on the Rock; from 2 Peter 1:5-8 (boy, that sounded organized and professional, didn’t it? Haha…) Previous entries are HERE.
But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I find it positively amazing how God has orchestrated so many details of my life to teach me the very things I’ve been writing about. Not only that, but the things He is teaching me are always specific to what I’m writing about that week. We serve an amazing God, do we not?
Oswald Chambers describes perseverance really well.
Perseverance is more than [just] endurance. It is endurance combined with absolute assurance and certainty that what we are looking for is going to happen. Perseverance means more than just hanging on, which may be only exposing our fear of letting go and falling. Perseverance is our supreme effort of refusing to believe that our hero is going to be conquered. (emphasis added)
More than endurance.
Have you ever had those types of days where you just don’t really care, and it’s all you can do to hang on, to endure the rest of the mundane, grueling things of the day before the day is over?
That feeling where you just don’t want to face life anymore.
My Mondays are like that a lot. (Mondays tend to be that way for a lot of people, I’ve found… ) It’s all you can do to stay awake, somewhat focused, and just stay alive through the day.
But perseverance gives more than just what is needed.
I don’t need much to get through a Monday. I can make it through without focusing on my classes, without giving my energy and participation, just to make it through the day.
But that’s less than my best, and it’s less than what God has called me to do – because when I do that, I can’t interact with people, encourage others, or learn anything God is teaching me – or my teachers, for that matter!
God calls us to persevere. Give it all you’ve got, because you’re doing it for the One who will sustain, uphold, and give you strength.
Perseverance means more than just hanging on, which may be only exposing our fear of letting go and falling.
If you’re able to, I’d like you to watch this video by Francis Chan. He’s the author of the book Crazy Love (which I highly recommend) and he illustrates this point perfectly.
Video embedding is giving me a hard time, so click HERE for the video.
Do you see what he’s saying here? We hold on to that beam, we give less than our best, just to survive, just to endure it – but how can we expect God to reward less than our best?
I personally used to be a gymnast for a long time before this crazy thing called life happened and I didn’t have time anymore. I was pretty good at it, too, while it lasted. I loved it – working hard for hours to achieve a certain skill, that satisfying *smack* when you hit the floor in a solid finish, the powdery chalk all in the air, swinging multiple feet above the ground, spinning around…*smack*
But the event I almost loathed with a passion was beam. Why? Because I was afraid of it. You’d think as a gymnast I’d have learned not to be, but I hated it. The thing is like less than 4 inches wide, and it doesn’t take more than landing an inch or so off center and *smack* – except this time it’s not a very satisfying one.
At one point, I was at a gymnastics meet, and I was absolutely in terror over a certain skill I had recently been working on – and failing at – which I had to perform at the meet. I was so worried about not falling off (you lose a lot of points if you do that) that all my form, poise, and elegance went completely out the window.
But at the end, of course, I landed, smiled at the judges, and gave a nice finish. What were my rankings? Really low.
What does this have to do with perseverance?
I was holding onto the beam, like Francis Chan was illustrating. I wouldn’t give all I was capable of because I was afraid of falling. I was just enduring it, trying to make it through the routine – instead of persevering.
One of my coaches would always say “just go for it. I wouldn’t say you could do it if I didn’t know you could.”
Do we trust Christ, when He says “go for it?” Do we trust that He has equipped us with all the skills, potential, and strength necessary to accomplish what He wants?
Oswald Chambers writes, The thing that really testifies for God and for the people of God in the long run is steady perseverance, even when the work cannot be seen by others. And the only way to live an undefeated life is to live looking to God.
See, unlike my gymnastics meet, where my coach, my friends, my family, and others were watching me – sometimes the only one watching us is God. There’s no one to encourage us, no one to tell us to press on. Sometimes we’re not even sure God is watching. But this…this becomes the ultimate test of our perseverance.
Perseverance is our supreme effort of refusing to believe that our hero is going to be conquered.
In those times, when you just want to get through the day, when it seems like no one is watching you; it is then that Christ is closest to us. It is those tiny moments that make a difference in our lives. The conscious choice to keep going.
Our hero will never be conquered.
Have you ever meditated on the power that the God we serve is unconquerable? Sometimes I fear I see God as just a little higher than me, but almost human. It stems from the fact that so often I see God as unreachable that I neglect to remember He is personal. But He’s also the God of the universe, Creator of all, Lord of the heavens, and He is undefeatable.
Because on my own, I’ll give in to the temptation, the depression, the fears. But because my God is greater, I can rest in the confidence that He will bring me through.
Never lose heart. Never back down. We serve a God who is so much greater, bigger, and stronger than anything and everything we could ever imagine.
God is always greater than my depiction of Him.
Revelation 3:10 – because you have kept my command to persevere, I will also keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.
Notice that it is something God commands us to do. Persevere.
I’m often really afraid of just plugging on through. Because it’s not exactly a glamorous thing, you know? People don’t really praise you for that. They only see the end result; and they don’t see you when you’re fighting it. But it’s when you’re fighting, when you’re struggling to persevere, that makes all the difference.
It reminds me of Puddleglum, in the Silver Chair. He’s not all that glamorous of a figure, and not many people know him or care about him. He’s stuck in his ways, his outlook, but there’s something about him that keeps on pressing. He’s got this unwavering faith in Aslan that even when the signs, their circumstances, the events around them make no sense at all, when his brain is being clouded with ideas the Lady of the Green Kirtle puts in their heads, he plows through. He holds on, because even though He doesn’t feel Aslan there or see Aslan there, He knows Aslan is there.
Hebrews 12:1-2 Therefore since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us. Looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
I so love the last part of this verse – Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. Remember this post? About faith, our foundation? This passage gives us confidence that He will perfect us when we look to Him!
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you – for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.