The Purpose of Perseverance
Persevere. This word God has spoken to me more times in this past year than any other. "Be patient. Trust me. Keep going. Don't quit. I've got this." At times I've wondered if I just skip this lesson, will God let me move on to the next one? Maybe the next one will be more to my liking. Maybe it will be less uncomfortable. Maybe it will produce a quicker result. But aren't those thoughts precisely why God is being so thorough with teaching me perseverance?
I can't say that I've particularly enjoyed learning to persevere, but I do now have an appreciation for the purpose of developing perseverance. Through reading my bible and experiencing the challenges of life, I've discovered four purposes for perseverance.
1. The Development of Our Character
"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 5:3-5
"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." - Romans 12:12
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." - James 1:2-4
Being able to persevere through life's challenges gives us the opportunity to strengthen our faith and produce fruit in our lives. Without perseverance, we would live shallow, surface-level lives void of authentic relationships and meaningful aspirations.
Most good things in life require hard work and consistency. If we quit every time someone or something was difficult or made us uncomfortable or unhappy, we would have very few reasons to be joyful.
2. Increasing Our Reliance on God
"Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes." - Ephesians 6:11
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." - Proverbs 3:5-6
Reliance on God is a requirement for having victory over the spiritual battles we face. We are not smarter than our enemy, but God is. We are not stronger than our enemy, but God is. Learning to put our faith in Him, knowing that He is greater and mightier than any challenge we face, is what perseverance is all about. If it's just us, of course we're going to quit. But to persevere through the greatest challenges requires us to trust the One who is greater than it all.
When we put our faith in God, knowing that He will keep us safe through our present obstacles, we allow Him to lead us into the future that He has planned for us. It may not always make sense to us "why" we're facing our battles, but we can have hope that God knows best for us and is leading us in the right direction.
3. Past Evidence for Future Challenges
"I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all." - Ecclesiastes 9:11
No one in this life is exempt from pain, hardship, and challenges. Life will always have highs and lows. One of the best ways to persevere through the valleys is through remembering and giving thanks to God for His faithfulness in the past. Being able to recall that you've persevered and survived before will help you to face your future challenges with stronger faith.
4. To Finish Strong
"The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons." - 1 Timothy 4:1
"We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized." - Hebrews 6:11
"Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him." - James 1:12
I want to finish my race strong, don't you? I know that regardless of how my life goes, my eternity is secure and I will get to be with Jesus. But I don't want to crawl feebly to the pearly gates; I want to sprint there with my head held high, knowing that I gave my life everything I had.
We don't need to impose impossible standards or place extra pressure on ourselves--life is already difficult enough! Perseverance is about facing our challenges head on, standing firm in our faith, and marching forward towards the finish line with Jesus at our side.
That verse in Galatians is one of my favourites. It reminds me that I'm here to do God's work and, whether in this life or the next, I will get to see the harvest of my perseverance and commitment.