Saturday, July 19, 2008

Perseverance - Grove

A Post of Penitence.

Perseverance. Oh sure, I’ve read The Tortoise and the Hare, too. I like the part where the tortoise wins. I bet you do too. But I don’t think that’s what perseverance is about. Winning, I mean.

I had a look around the Bible for the word perseverance. The word only appears in the New Testament (just a bit o’ trivia for ya), and it almost always appears in the context of suffering. How are you feeling about being the tortoise now? Suffering? Uh, no thanks. I like comfy. I like sighing over good books, having enough food to eat, money in the bank, bon-bons on my table, having friends, family, and fans adore me.

Who wants perseverance when you can have happiness?

A closer look at the Bible shows that perseverance is, in fact, a gift from God. ‘Scuse me? Wouldn’t God rather give me comfy, instead? Then we could just skip over the perseverance thing and get right to the winning.

Oh, that’s right, I said winning isn’t the point. So, what is the point?

In every text I looked at, the point of perseverance was to change the person from the inside out. God didn’t ask us to persevere just because we’d get a prize at the end. Rather, we are to persevere simply because we believe what we are doing is important. The very act of holding on to God in the face of adverse terrain, cranky people, rejection, poverty, illness, and everything else the world can throw at us is the point.

And the winning? Well, the Bible tells us that the outcome of clinging to Christ no matter what is godliness. Proven character. And hope.

In the end, we will suffer. And the gift from God is perseverance. It is the very presence of God in your life. God bends and weeps with you who grieve, He cries with you who are crying, and is the Balm of Gilead for those who are wounded.

In the very end, there is the prize. Eternal life fulfilled in Heaven. And what a glorious day it will be. But God, the giver of all good things, doesn’t wait for Heaven. He gives us the gifts we need today, and the prize we can claim today. He gives us the gift of perseverance and the prize of His character.

And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us (Romans 5:3-5).

We can persevere.

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