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When you think of perseverance, what or who comes to mind?
I think of a marathon runner who trains for months suffering through weather and injury and then runs 26.2 miles to the finish of a race. This takes perseverance.
I think of a doctor who studies for years and years learning everything possible for the opportunity to treat people medically. This takes lots of perseverance.
I think of a couple who want to be parents but struggle through the pains of infertility – maybe using in vitro fertilization or maybe adopting. They pour all their energy, time, and money into becoming parents. This takes perseverance.
I think of a cancer patient who deals with the ups and downs of chemotherapy and radiation meanwhile hanging onto a thread of hope for another year, another month, another day. This takes perseverance.
In each of these cases, perseverance is only achieved when someone decides to endure the trial they face. They may consider giving in, but there is something that keeps them pushing – something causes them to fight – something reminds them to persist. They keep going even when it’s hard, when hope seems dim, and when many would rather give up.
I don’t know what kind of trial you are going through. I don’t know what trial you have yet to endure. But there’s something we each need to know about the trials we face. In the first chapter of his letter found in the New Testament, James talks about the importance of trials in bringing us to completeness and maturity.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4
Did you catch that? James says we should consider it pure joy when we face trials. I don’t know about you, but this is tough for me. I remember going through a pretty challenging time a few years ago. I was facing a very tough challenge at work; meanwhile, my wife was struggling through significant health issues. It was not a time of joy for me. I was lonely. I was distraught. And I was hanging onto a thin thread of hope as it felt like the world was collapsing in around me. It’s funny now. I honestly didn’t even think about this passage from James which I had read many times before. Yet I was supposed to find joy in the midst of trials.
I can look back now and see God’s hand in my life despite the challenges I faced. I can see how God used these trials to produce perseverance in my life. And I can see how these trials led to a deeper maturity. God is good.
James goes on to share how blessing follows those who persevere through trials.
Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. James 1:12
Like I said before, I don’t know what trials you may be going through. But I would encourage you to hang in there. Look to God for your strength and hope. And know that God can work through the junk you are dealing with today.
How has God blessed you through trials? What keeps you going when life gets you down?
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