Persevere: It’s one of those words in the English language that causes us to metaphorically put our fingers in our ears; to shudder at the thought of pushing through our present circumstances, whatever they may be, for a bit longer. We live in an age of “instant.” We want everything done now!
The dictionary definition of perseverance is: “continuing in a course of action or decision, irrespective of discouragement, opposition or previous failure.”
To persevere takes courage, boldness, faith, hope. And the wonderful thing is, the Holy Spirit, our great Comforter, empowers us in our endurance ~ we are not, and never will be, alone.
“Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after the other.” (Walter Elliot 1888 – 1958)
Our Christian life is rather like that statement. Though the Bible describes it as a race, it isn’t a sprint, it’s steady, slow, purposeful and patient.
The Apostle Paul wrote this: “All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should….”1 Corinthians 9:25-27
In Jesus We Have A Purpose, a Plan and a Prize.
God doesn’t call us to persevere through life without a purpose, a plan and a prize. We see this in Philippians 3:12-14
(I’ve highlighted the purpose, plan and prize in different colours to make them stand out more clearly.)
“I admit that I haven’t yet acquired the absolute fullness that I’m pursuing, but I run with passion into his abundance so that I may reach the purpose that Jesus Christ has called me to fulfill and wants me to discover. I don’t depend on my own strength to accomplish this;however I do have one compelling focus: I forget all of the past as I fasten my heart to the future instead. I run straight for the divine invitation of reaching the heavenly goal and gaining the victory-prize through the anointing of Jesus”. (TPT
The Purpose: to run the race (with endurance) towards the goal. To press on toward the day that all of Christ will be revealed in us, and to us.
The Plan: to remain in God’s training camp, we are never finished with learning and training. The plan involves putting into practice personal ‘disciplines’ such as: Bible study, prayer, worship, training our thoughts, avoiding harmful thinking and speech. In the plan is also forgetting the past, shaking off the things that slow us down and running with all we’ve got towards what is ahead!
The Prize: a crown that will last for all eternity. In Revelation 3:7-13. Jesus encourages the church at Philadelphia, whom He describes as having “little strength, yet you have kept my word.” They persevered, they pushed through and remained faithful, and this is what said about them:
“I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown. All who are victorious will become pillars in the Temple of my God, and they will never have to leave it. And I will write on them the name of my God, and they will be citizens in the city of my God—the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven from my God. And I will also write on them my new name.”
Paul too, persevered through incredible difficulties, some of which he describes in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28. Yet at the end of his life, Paul tells Timothy again, about the prize he has been looking towards in his perseverance:
“As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.”2 Timothy 4:6-8
So, today if you have been enduring through trying times for what seems like a very long time, you can rest assured that everything God calls you to persevere in is wrapped in His goodness and His faithful love. He has a perfect plan for the purpose of perseverance, and because of this, as His dearly loved child, you can rejoice in and through trials of all kinds, knowing that you are becoming mature, stronger, never lacking anything and ever closer to the prize!