Perseverance is the quality that allows someone to continue trying to do something even though it is difficult.
Perseverance is also my word of the year, my personal theme of improvement for 2014.
To be honest with you, there have been times this year where I wished I had picked a better word, perhaps Fun or Laughter. Do you see the last word in the definition of perseverance, difficult. Difficult! I am realizing at this point in the year that Perseverance is quite a challenging ability to build and develop.
How does one even go about building perseverance?
Whenever I am attempting to find answers, especially when it comes to developing myself, I first go to the Bible. I go to verses that I know of or I look in my concordance (the reference section of my Bible) or I may even just Google search Bible verses with that theme.
When it comes to building perseverance there are two verses that quickly come to my mind:
“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” Romans 5:3-5 (NIV)
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1: 2-4 (NIV)
Suffering. Pain. Trials. These are the building blocks of perseverance.
Reflecting on these words I can only conclude one thing. I must be absolutely crazy for picking this as my character trait to work on this year!
I almost giggle at the thought of giving up on perseverance. There’s a great irony in that.
This year has had trials. There has been pain. There is suffering. But, it seems as though we never experience a year that does not hold those three things in some shape or form. So in that right, I know that working on this quality right now will benefit me for the rest of my days that I walk in this world.
Building perseverance hurts. It is exhausting. It is frustrating. It is emotional.
I have learned that having perseverance does not mean that you are never going to want to quit or give up. Those feelings, emotions and desires will still be there. I want to quit. I want to scream. I want to run away. But, perseverance is continuing. It’s going further. It’s pressing on EVEN THOUGH you want to scream, kick and run away.
It is also about where we focus our eyes. When I focus on the suffering, the pain and the trials the urge to give up becomes almost unbearable. It seems like the only option is to throw in the towel and walk away.
What is the outcome of perseverance?
Romans tells us that perseverance develops our character and that character will give us hope – a hope that will not disappoint us because God pours into us His love and gives us the Holy Spirit. God does not use a dash of His love. God does not just sprinkle it on. God pours His love into us. God freely creates a stream of love that flows into us continuously.
Just pause for a moment with me and soak it in. Savor the love that God is pouring into you. Know that it will never stop. Even when you think you may have reached the end, God will remind you that He has no end, neither does His love.
James says that we should consider it a joy when we face our trials because it is the trials that will test our faith. The testing will produce perseverance. Perseverance is a critical component to being mature and complete.
How can we possibly consider these awful things we face with joy?
I think the answer lies in Hebrews 12:2, “Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Look to Jesus. He is the master builder and master craftsman.
I know way to often, I am guilty of taking the pieces of my life and attempting to build my perseverance and shore up my faith myself. When I look to myself, I know it is then that I struggle the most with giving up and quitting.
Jesus has the master blueprint.
Jesus started the work and He is the one who perfectly knows the details of who we are, down to the number of hairs on our heads. Do you realize how amazing that is? That is even more than the builder of a house who can tell you down to the exact number how many nails are in a house from the floor boards to the roof. I have personally never met a man yet who kept track of the number of nails they used on even the smallest of projects. That’s why nails are sold in large boxes right? You can always give or take a few.
But, not Jesus. He knows.
How does Jesus know how hard it is. Because Jesus lived it. He not only lived it, he pressed on and face something so horrific that we can not even fathom the depths of His suffering. It’s right there in Hebrews. Jesus endured the cross. He took all of the guilt and shame and sin of ALL of humanity upon himself.
Where were Jesus’ eyes? On the suffering? No, it was on the joy that what set before him. It is what would come after the suffering. The reward of His perseverance; being seated in His place in Heaven.
We will never face the same thing, but we will get a taste and opportunity to share in it. We will have the choice of where we will turn our eyes during that time. What will come of it? We too will have a place in Heaven. Jesus said in His own words that He was going on to prepare a place for us.
My dear reader, I do not know what it is you have faced in life, I do not know the exactly details of what you are facing right now, and I have no idea what lies ahead in your future. But I know that Jesus knows and He loves you through it. He is with You right now. Jesus has a place for you because you are precious to Him.
I can only share these things, because I have experienced them. I am so weak. Every day in my life there is probably something that I wish to give up on. But, I can tell you that I am where I am because God has poured His love into me continuously. He has helped me face trials, tribulations and sufferings. I do not always look to the joy that lies ahead. Sometimes I wallow deep and long in my pool of self pity before I decide to make the choice to look up and get out.
But, I have seen the extraordinary acts of an amazing God. Personal miracles that are a testimony, not of who I am, but of who God is.
If God has done these things for me, who is so ordinary and so small. Imagine what God can do for you?
God loves us all. He cherishes us. He has called us heirs and written us into His eternal legacy. God has a master plan, a blueprint for each of us, to build our perseverance, our character and our hope. He will bring us to the place of joy through that design. It is not drawn in ink, but drawn in the blood of our Savior who finalized it upon the cross.
May the knowledge of these things soak to the depths of our hearts. May they help us to build our perseverance.
Thank You so much for the way that You so beautifully weave Your messages and words together. They become a such a warm and comforting blanket that wraps around us like a warm hug.
Lord, I pray for myself and for all of my readers. May our connection bring us encouragement – courage to continue to press on. Even when it becomes challenging. Even when it becomes hard. May we keep our eyes on You. May we be reminded of the joy that awaits us on the other side. May we press in and press on to what You have called us to.
Most of all may we feel the continuous outpouring of Your love. May it wash over us, refreshing and renewing us in such incredible ways.
In Your Beautiful Name, Jesus, Amen.