We live in a world that says give up. If the going gets too tough, if the commitment isn’t what you thought, give up. Endurance is tough. It is easy at times in life to wonder if we are really making a difference. If the words we utter and the actions we take actually hit home. I am in one of those times in my life. But recently God has reminded me of this simple but profound truth: I am at work. Persevere, persevere, endure.
When I was still living at home, every day on my way to work, I would be encouraged out the door by my mother shouting “Persevere, persevere, endure.” I was annoyed to be honest with you because I really didn’t want to persevere. I just wanted to survive.
Years later, I still find life tiring, and in some ways, I’m just trying to survive.
I am a youth pastor now, and it is difficult. Sermons to preach, activities to plan, relationships to build. Sometimes I feel like I’m hitting on all cylinders. Other times, I’m just exhausted and worn out and I don’t even want to darken the doors of a church.
This is ministry. Ministry is tough. Time consuming. Taxing.
Recently though, I have been encouraged. Encouraged by multiple students that I have reconnected with. Encouraged to persevere, persevere, endure. Encouraged to remember God at work in the lives of His children, and His pursuit of those that don’t know Him yet.
I recall two students.
One called a week ago to tell me that through opening up to me about the darkness and sin that was well hidden in his life, that he had come to salvation just months ago.
The other, just last night, called with a question from thorough study of the Old Testament. He is involved in his church, and is even considering becoming a counselor at the camp where we first met.
Those two stories were so encouraging for me. Little reminders from God that He was at work then, and that He is still at work now.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2)
The writer of Hebrews describes the Christian life as a race. Why? Because running a race takes endurance and focus. Each runner has to persevere all the while keeping their mind on the prize.
How hard this is. To stay focused. To stay in the race and not give up when the going gets tough. To not lose hope when all seems lost. To not lose joy when life knocks you down. In Joshua 1:7, Joshua is encouraged to not turn to the right or to the left. This is difficult!
How do we do this?
How do we persevere and endure?
Focus on Jesus, and know that as we run the race, He is at work, changing the lives of those around us.
We must cling to Jesus. We must hope in Jesus. We must look to Jesus.
He is the one who gives us the strength to persevere and endure in the midst of all hardships.
He is the one who gives us hope to believe that He is at work in those around you, and that we must continue to keep fighting and praying and loving with the immense love that He has given us so that others lives with transformed by His Gospel.
He is the one who allows us to rest in the depths of our souls, when life hurts, and when life is downright awful.
Life as a Christian is tough. We have so many things, people, influences, trying to pull us from our focus. May we persevere, persevere, endure through looking to Jesus as the author and perfecter of our faith. Only through His strength and love can we ever possibly hope to thrive, and not just survive.
Picture taken from: http://www.dailygood.org/story/141/manual-for-climbing-mountains-paulo-coelho/