Continued from here.
Unfortunately, perseverance can only be developed through struggle. Who wants to hear that?? And yet, the Bible makes this clear. It is developed through trials, testing, and suffering, all of which = struggle. I don’t like this any more than you do! I’ll get into the positive aspects of perseverance in my next blog entry, but we first need to face the reality of the tough aspects in this one.
Whenever someone tells me that he is praying for patience, I cringe because I know that this person is praying lots of waiting into his life. After all, how can someone develop patience without being placed into situation after situation requiring him to wait? The same is true for perseverance. A person cannot develop perseverance without experiencing long-term resistance, which means his life circumstances need to stay difficult for an extended period of time to provide the training ground to develop perseverance.
Think about a marathon runner. She cannot train by only experiencing short-term resistance. In other words, she cannot run sprints in practice and then expect to complete a marathon. She must push her body to the limits to run 5 miles … and then 10 miles … and then 15 miles … until she can run the distance. And nobody can develop the endurance to run 26.2 miles overnight. It requires many months of training as the person’s body builds up the muscles to push through the struggles involved in running long distances.
I don’t think it is a coincidence that Paul used the metaphor of finishing the race to describe his spiritual journey. Paul faced obstacle after obstacle, and yet he kept running. No matter how many struggles he faced, Paul persevered because he loved God more than he hated the struggles. He never promised that following Christ would be easy, only that it would be worth it.
To be continued…
[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace lying on a couch and dramatically saying, “Life is hard!” Courtesy Bitmoji.]