Growing in Perseverance

March 21, 2023

by Maria Fontaine

Someone recently shared with me about some very traumatic experiences that they and their team were facing as they carried on in their mission efforts to help others. It started me thinking about just how important the quality of perseverance is in our lives as we follow Jesus.

We have to have faith for what the Lord shows us to do. It takes perseverance to obey Him, in order to go where He’s sending us, or stay where He’s wanting us to stay. It takes trust to allow Him to direct our paths. Whatever challenges come into our lives, those times are often the training ground for our perseverance because, as Jesus said, “He who is faithful in that which is least will be faithful in much” (Luke 16:10).

None of us know what the future in this life holds for us, but we need to persevere in faith and obedience to the Lord’s voice, in whatever form it comes. Some people face situations where their perseverance and faith are being tested to the limit in ways that I’m not sure I could bear, but they continue to persevere. But whatever difficulties you face, the solution remains the same: look to Jesus, seek His will, and be faithful to whatever He shows you to do.

Jesus has promised that as we cling to Him, He will give us what we need to be able to persevere. Some people, like the ones I mentioned at the beginning of this post, are laboring under devastating circumstances as they rescue and care for others who are facing trauma, pain, and suffering that goes beyond what most of us can even imagine. It can be traumatic for those who serve others, and at times the suffering tears their hearts apart, but they fight on, they continue giving, they persevere.

We cannot fully grasp the immense loss and suffering that some people endure. But I believe that perseverance that is born of faith is what enables all those who love God to cling to Him regardless of what they go through.

No matter what struggles you face, some principles seem to always apply. So while some things that I’ll share as illustrations may seem small compared to the extreme testing that some people might be facing, the principles are the same. What changes is the degree of difficulty and the level of perseverance needed to overcome those difficulties. Each step of growth in perseverance prepares us for the next battle and the consequent victory. An example of what I’m talking about is the poem “Don’t Quit!” by Edgar Guest. The ideas in this poem can apply to whatever challenges we face.

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
When you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit—rest if you must, but don’t you quit.

Success is failure turned inside out,
The silver tint in the clouds of doubt,
You never know how close you are,
It may be near when it seems afar,
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit—that’s just the time when you must not quit.

I came across a simple illustration of how someone came to better understand the importance and value of perseverance. We can apply the principle to what we believe God has asked us to do.

A man stood on a street corner giving out tracts. After months of seeing no results, he quit and dedicated his life to business pursuits. Several years later he passed the same corner and saw a young man giving out tracts.

“He thinks people will be changed by what he’s doing,” he thought. “I wonder how long it will take him to realize his efforts are useless?”

Curious, he spoke to the young man. “I admire what you are doing, but I’m curious. Why are you giving out tracts on this particular street corner?”

“Sir, years ago there was a man giving out tracts right here on this spot. He gave one to me. I didn’t read it right away, but one day I did, and I accepted Jesus as my Savior, and He changed my life. Would you like to read a copy of the tract he gave me?”

The young man handed him a copy of the same tract he had once given to many people, never believing that his efforts had changed lives.

This provides some food for thought. If one person’s life was changed, how many others might have also received the Lord through that little tract?

Perseverance in what Jesus has shown us to do can also be manifested in our prayer life, or by sticking to a job or ministry, or by being a caretaker for someone, or some other task that might seem mundane and might require sacrifices or challenges that could strongly tempt you to give up. Persevering in our life for Jesus is a declaration of faith and trust in God without conditions, and as we persevere, we can change the world by changing our part of it.

When discussing this topic of the cost of perseverance with one of our members, he quoted me a poem that I felt was the Lord speaking to me. It helped to remind me that nothing is impossible with the Lord, even our continued perseverance. Interestingly, it also was written by Edgar Guest. Because it encouraged me, I want to share it with you.

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done,
But he with a chuckle replied
That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one
Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So, he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried, he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it!

Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;
At least no one ever has done it!”
But, he took off his coat and he took off his hat,
And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it!

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure.
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
Just take off your coat and go to it.
Just start in to sing as you tackle the thing
That cannot be done, and you’ll do it!

This person explained that years ago when facing a situation that had left him struggling to keep going for the Lord, he had come across this poem. It was just what he needed to be reminded of. He committed it to memory, and it has helped to cheer him on to persevere through some challenging times.

Jesus can use all kinds of things to help us persevere through whatever we encounter in life. Of course, God’s promises are the ultimate foundation to stand on. However, He also uses many other things to remind us, encourage us, and motivate us to keep fighting.

One very important mindset that can help inspire perseverance in what the Lord is asking us to do is gratitude. It’s easy, in extremely challenging situations, to lose sight of the power of gratitude, but the fact is that if God never gave us another gift or blessing, we would still be more indebted to Him than we could ever hope to repay. That is the simple truth.

In spite of whatever we may be facing in the present, there are countless reasons to persevere in following God. We have a perfect God who rejoices in keeping us in His ever-loving arms. He provides what we need most, and His forgiveness and mercy are from everlasting to everlasting.

Things may look hopeless and desperate in the present, but the truth is still the truth. We have to fight against our temptation to doubt, but it is in those times that faith and perseverance can help us refuse to give up.

We’ve all seen the power of perseverance illustrated in many accounts in the Bible, as well as in testimonies, stories, books, and movies. Many times, the picture described is of some impossible situation where circumstances or evil have brought about what looks like certain defeat. In such dramatic scenarios, the person of God or the hero or heroine is overwhelmed and then vanishes amidst the smoke, chaos, and devastation of the scene.

All seems lost, and our hearts are tempted to sink into despair, because we can’t imagine how anyone could survive such things. But then, out of the smoke and destruction, there is a glimpse of something; a glimmer of hope begins to emerge. Then, though battered and bloodied, the victor appears out of the billowing smoke, still fighting onward, determined not to give up!

That is a good illustration of perseverance. I think such illustrations stir most people’s spirits, because the seeds of truth that Jesus has planted in our hearts remind us that, as we hold on to Him and keep fighting with perseverance, His power in us will overcome.

Sometimes people may feel that they must have some sort of great, overwhelming quality called faith. I’m going to delve further into this topic of what faith is in another post. But at its core, faith in God is simply believing and trusting in His love for you.

Our faith, as I have defined it here, is what we need in order to persevere in our service for Jesus, even when it looks like we’re not being successful or making progress that can be seen or measured in the present. We can carry on if He’s made it clear that we should stay the course here and now. We may not realize for a long time (or even until the next life) what our perseverance has accomplished, but that is why the Bible says, “For we walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).

Sometimes, in the midst of a battle, we may feel that we don’t want to hear one more reminder that the Lord wants us to keep going by faith. We’re all human, and we experience times when we struggle to keep going. Sometimes, we may even sink into despair for a while, but if we find ourselves in that state, the answer is to get back up again. As an old Japanese proverb says, “If you fall seven times, then stand up eight.”

I recently came across a collection of verses and quotes that I had compiled some months ago that I hope will be a blessing to you, and give you that extra umph you need to keep persevering till the victory breaks through.

* * *

Perseverance is more than endurance. It is endurance combined with absolute assurance and certainty that what God is telling us is going to happen.—Oswald Chambers

By perseverance the snail reached the Ark.—Charles Spurgeon

Bear in mind, if you are going to amount to anything, that your success does not depend upon the brilliancy and the impetuosity with which you take hold, but upon the everlasting and sanctified bull-doggedness with which you hang on after you have taken hold.—Dr. A. B. Meldrum

The only guarantee for failure is to stop trying.—John C. Maxwell

Great works are performed, not by strength, but by perseverance.—Samuel Johnson

A delayed answer to your prayer doesn’t mean God is unconcerned, but rather He has a larger purpose for His timing. Trust Him!—Rick Warren

Perseverance is an essential element in successful praying, as in every other realm of conflict.—E. M. Bounds

No matter how dark and hopeless a situation might seem, never stop praying.—Billy Graham

The faith that relentlessly seeks to follow God, also pleases God.—Francis Frangipane

It is always too soon to quit praying, even when praying is the last thing we seem able to do.—Harold Lindsell

Persistence in prayer doesn’t change God. It shapes us for the answer.—Bill Johnson

Work as if everything depended upon work and pray as if everything depended upon prayer.—William Booth

The way to Heaven is ascending; we must be content to travel uphill, though it be hard and tiresome, and contrary to the natural bias of our flesh.—Jonathan Edwards

Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal.—Henry Ford

Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.—Harriet Beecher Stowe

We are always in the forge or on the anvil; by trials God is shaping us for higher things.—Henry Ward Beecher

Perseverance in prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance but rather laying hold of God’s willingness. Our sovereign God has purposed to sometimes require persevering prayer as the means to accomplish His will.—William Thrasher

If you are going through hell, keep going.―Winston S. Churchill

You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.―Maya Angelou

I am tired in the Lord’s work, but not tired of it.—George Whitefield

You cannot learn to persevere unless you have had to fight through and past adversity. Pain is turned into purpose, suffering into satisfaction, defeat into determination, sorrow into sympathy, and hopelessness into heavenly victory when each is subjugated beneath perseverance, born of faith.—Author Unknown

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The last things that we read in an article are often what we remember most. So, to end with Bible verses to help stir our determination and perseverance in following Jesus seems fitting.

So do not throw away your confidence; it holds a great reward. You need to persevere, so that after you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.—Hebrews 10:35–36 BSB

I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize of God’s heavenly calling in Christ Jesus.—Philippians 3:12–14 BSB

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.—Hebrews 12:1–3 NIV

We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.—Romans 5:3–5 NIV

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.—2 Timothy 4:7–8 NIV

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.—Hebrews 10:23 NIV

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.—James 1:12 NIV

Let us not become weary in doing good, for in due time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.—Galatians 6:9 BSB