Thursday, February 21, 2013

Persistence Pays

The crucifixion of our Lord in a window in
the Cathedral of Lincoln, England
     One of the lessons I have learned in life is that persistence pays.  It is so easy to give up, give in, or become discouraged.  Confronting our difficulties is much more challenging than turning and walking away from them, and if truth be told, there have been many times when I have wanted to do just that.
     Facing tough relationships or circumstances not only refines our character but also give us an opportunity to witness God in action.  After all, we cannot handle life by ourselves.  We may think we can, but we usually exhaust ourselves trying to handle burdens we were never meant to carry alone.
     In his letter to the Galatians, the Apostle Paul writes these words of encouragement:  "And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart" (Gal. 6:9).  Of all people, Paul knew what it was to face daunting circumstances.  He had been shipwrecked twice, bitten by a deadly snake, stoned and nearly killed, and had a health condition that never seemed to leave him.  Yet in and through it all, Paul demonstrated persistence.  He knew that his purpose was higher than the transitory events currently surrounding him.  He could have walked away and said, "Forget it!"  However, he knew that God was bigger than whatever came his way.  He knew who he was in Christ and trusted in the promises which God had given for all who live for His glory.
     Discouragement and procrastination are two weapons that Satan happily uses against believers.  If he can deter us by either means, he will do so because he does not want us to continue to do good in the face of hard times.  Let me give some examples from the Bible of those who persisted.  First, there was the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.  He persisted in his forty day fast despite all the temptation to quit offered in various forms by Satan.  Secondly, we can look to the example of King David who could have easily given up following God when his life was in jeopardy as Saul pursued him.  Even when he was presented with the opportunity to kill Saul, David chose to wait upon the Lord and His timing rather than taking things into his own hands.  Finally, as I mentioned before, Paul, himself, was a great example of persistence.
     In the verse which follows Paul's admonishment to "keep on keeping on", he tells us something very important:  "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith" (Gals. 2:10).  Not only are we to persist, but we are also to practice doing good to all and especially to our brothers and sisters in Christ.  Being a living example of persistence proves our faith in a God who holds all the circumstances of our lives in His hands. He knows the beginning form the end of all things.  Therefore, we must not quit or give in!  Discouragement will always try to eat away at our resolve, but we can take a stand in Christ.
Stained Glass windows at the Cathedral of Lincoln
in Lincolnshire England
     To see where you stand in relationship to persistence, ask yourself these questions:  Do I get angry or grumpy when things don't go my way?  Do I complain when the going gets tough?  Am I afraid of failure?  Do I finish what I start?  Am I easily frustrated at the circumstances of my life?  How do I rate in terms of persistence?  We need to be truthful with ourselves if we are struggling.  The place to run is to the Father's throne.  By prayer, fellowship with like-minded believers and study of His Word, we can find the strength we need to move on despite the bumps in the road of life.  Trust me.  There is not a soul who does not face trials of one sort or another.  However, unlike the world who has no hope, we, as believers, have the promise of life everlasting and the power of the Holy Spirit residing within us that can help us put one foot in front of another even when we do not think we can move forward.
     Take God at His Word today.  Remember that persistence will bring rewards when we are seeking to glorify God with our lives.  Others are watching to see if we will complete what we have begun with grace.  Let us seek to keep on doing good despite our hardships for God's harvest is sweet and refreshing.  Selah!

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