Because I am struggling with perseverance in my life right now, I thought I’d write a series on the topic. Perseverance is such an important trait to develop, but Christians generally don’t want to talk about it. We want to hear about all of the “good stuff” … the easy stuff … such as God’s blessings and grace. We don’t want to focus on the hard parts, but that’s what separates the Baby Christians from the mature ones.
I don’t know how or why so many people within the Church got the impression that if you live a “good life” and “follow the rules,” then you’ll have an easy life. That simply is not Biblical. Jesus was crucified. Paul was chained and imprisoned, shipwrecked, flogged, and ultimately martyred. In fact, most of Jesus’ disciples were persecuted and martyred. So, I am at a loss as to how the lie got started that if you follow the right formula, God will spare you pain. My experience has been that the closer I grow to God, the harder my life becomes, but it also becomes much more meaningful, purposeful, and … believe it or not … joyful!
James tells us that perseverance is necessary to becoming mature and complete in Christ. The only way to develop perseverance is to go through seasons of trials, challenges, and pain. Think about it – You don’t need to persevere when things are going your way. It’s when everything in your life is going wrong that you even have the opportunity to persevere. Sadly, few people do, meaning that few reach maturity and completeness in Christ.
I am inspired by the few who do persevere. If you don’t know the story of Horatio G. Spafford’s perseverance that led to him writing the hymn, It is Well with My Soul, you are in for quite a treat! Read the story behind the hymn and then the words to the hymn, and you will be amazed. How could Spafford possibly say it is well with his soul after losing all five of his children? Because he had become mature and complete in Christ!
That’s what I want, but I don’t want to have to suffer to get there. I suspect very few people welcome suffering. However, James tells us to consider it pure joy when we face trials that lead to perseverance. If I have to go through the pain anyhow, I’d rather come out mature and complete on the other side. How about you?
[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace lying on her back underneath a car’s fuel meter pointing to E (empty). Courtesy Bitmoji.]