“Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare.”
“Without effort, your talent is nothing more than unmet potential.”
“Potential is one thing. What we do with it is quite another.”
Those are three of my favorite quotes from Angela Duckworth’s book Grit. I leaned into them this month while taking my most intense coursework ever. Twenty-one days of all-work-no-play, mop-my-brains-off-the-floor intense.
Some days I wondered if I had it in me to finish. When I was most exhausted, I thought about Joseph, Joshua, and others in the Bible. They underscored one word: PERSEVERANCE.
Merriam-Webster defines perseverance as “continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition.”
That’s a big deal to God. But why?
What perseverance does for us
Perseverance moves us to choose the only viable path: forward.
- Think of Elisha slaughtering his oxen and then following Elijah (1 Kings 19:19-21).
- Think of Joshua, finally in Canaan. Now the Israelites had to conquer unnumbered foes. Jericho was the first (Joshua 5:8-15 through Joshua 6). Its double-wall fortifications were 5 to 6.5 feet thick and 20 to 46 feet high.
- Think of Joseph. Any place would be better than the bottom of a well, right (Genesis 37:18-28)?
Sometimes God corrals us into a place where the only viable path is forward and the only way to look is up—just to get us to persevere.
Perseverance enables us to live without regrets.
In the movie What If, starring Kevin Sorbo and Kristy Swanson, Sorbo is given a chance to see what could have happened if he’d risked doing what God originally called him to do instead of taking the safer, more secure route. I don’t want to play life safe. If I’m going to fail, it’ll be trying—not wondering what could have been.
Perseverance clarifies our perspective.
Perseverance keeps us from stopping when we can’t see clearly. Perseverance defogs our rear-view mirrors and our windshield so we can see the view behind us (God’s past blessings) and the view ahead of us (God’s future blessings).
Perseverance builds our character.
Ouch. To paraphrase David Jeremiah, everyone has a spot in the geography of their souls that marks the limit of their faith. We learn where that point lies when a season of testing threatens to unravel our faith.
No one wants to hear “testing of your faith produces perseverance” (James 1:3) in the middle of a crisis. But: When we’re at the end of ourselves, we realize how limited we are and how all-sufficient God is. That’s usually how God readies us for His bigger plans. Click To Tweet Psalm 105:19 says God tested Joseph’s character until it was time for God to reveal to Joseph what his dreams meant. (That took thirteen years, including ten in prison.)
Perseverance deepens our worship and praise.
When prayer, obedience, and perseverance drag on for months or years without any apparent change, it’s easy to despair. David did. (Read the beginning of Psalm 13.) But God promises a back side to that season. And with it, deeper worship and praise than ever before, as David declared in Psalm 40:
I waited patiently for the Lord;
He inclined to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me up from the pit of despair,
out of the miry clay;
He set my feet upon a rock,
and made my footsteps firm.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
What our perseverance does for God
Sometimes we forget that perseverance does something for God, too. Does that sound odd to you? God doesn’t need anything. But chew on this:
- Perseverance honors God.
When we stick with God through the tough times, we affirm His reputation. We give credit to God for who He is and what He promises.
- Perseverance magnifies God
We can’t add to God’s glory, but we can reflect and magnify it. Think of a telescope. It makes things look bigger to the viewer (although the real size doesn’t change). We make an infinite God look a little bigger to others when we share with them what He has done for us and live in a way that reflects Him. (See Psalm 69:30.)
Back to the course
My course ended late Friday evening. I declared Saturday a jammies/movies/pancakes day. Got as far as jammies and a movie. Then I slept. For fifteen hours. I’m still exhausted but so grateful that God enabled me to persevere. And I’m excited to see what He will do with that effort.
What is challenging your perseverance today? Share in the comments. I’m praying for you.
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A Deeper Dive: for more on perseverance …
2 Peter 1:6
1 Timothy 6:11-12