What is "perseverance"? The dictionary defines it as "determined continuation with something; steady and continued action or belief, usually over a long period and especially despite difficulties or setbacks." LIfe brings us things that require determination and steady, continued action and belief, sometimes against all odds.
Difficulties and setbacks don't always mean we're headed the wrong direction. For example, take the apostle Paul. He spent a great deal of time overcoming obstacles to generate the new testament books of the bible he wrote. If being in the right place and doing the right thing were judged solely by the number of challenges through which we must persevere, Paul's life and ministry would be considered in large part to be a failure. He spoke openly about the difficulties he faced.
Notice the listing of adversities he faced and ultimately overcame: "I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches." II Corinthians 11:23-28
Now the point isn't to glorify difficulties, nor to say that every difficulty is a sign of the workings and hand of God. We can bring some of our own difficulties in our lives through unwise decisions, actions and associations. And no one needs to be a "glutton" for punishment and take on unnecessary adversity. But it is vital we understand that great things are accomplished through a persevering spirit that refuses to bow to circumstances and refuses to be overtaken by resistant pressures in life.
Assuming that the problems through which we are persisting are coming through activities that are aligned with our primary purpose in life, the word of encouragement for this hour is to persevere and overcome. When we're properly focused on the process of life, we can see that the purpose of perseverance is to mature, grow and develop. The payoff of perseverance is to overcome the pressures and problems in life and stand successful and triumphant. In other words, if we grow and mature we'll know how to overcome not only our current adversities but those that may show up in the future.
Perseverance has payoffs that quitting can never provide. An oak tree emerges from the contents within an acorn. It must overcome the ravages of time, weather and adverse conditions. But the acorn becomes an oak tree because it refuses to stop growing through difficult times.
Once forged under pressure and cut to reflect light, a piece of coal becomes a diamond and has not only great beauty, but great value. We can persevere through pressures to become people of pleasantness, attractiveness, substance and value.
The butterly uses the transforming power concealed in a cocoon to become something greater than it was previous to entering their "chamber of change." Here's my word to you: Use whatever pressures standing in your life to be transformed into something beyond where you are, to become something more than who you are.
Perseverance is a learned habit in which any one of us can train ourselves. By persisting in pursuit of a goal or dream you desire, you purposefully aim your God-given talents and energies as an investment. In doing so, you will achieve what God has conceived in your heart and birthed in your soul. Though obstacles come and opportunities to quit appear, choose to persist and your dreams will come to pass as accomplished realities in your lifetime. Persevere through fear, opposition and confusion...persevere and overcome!