The Payoff of Perseverance

September 28, 2010

by Peter Amsterdam

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Over the years I have seen some very dear friends of mine be marvelously blessed by the Lord. Some of these same loved ones and co-workers have gone through what seemed to be a series of incredibly trying times. They faced a lot of difficulty, disappointment, and unfulfilled desires and dreams. From time to time I would comment to Maria, “It will be so fulfilling when we see them truly happy.”—And the wonderful thing is that today, nearly all of them are.

I attended a wedding celebration for one of these friends recently. She had gotten married a few months back in another country, and so she and her husband were celebrating their marriage with those of us who weren’t able to attend the actual ceremony. I felt so much joy seeing them together, along with their beautiful baby daughter. She had desperately wanted a family for many years, but it just wasn’t happening, and of course that was a huge test for her—but she continued to hold on to the Lord and trust. And now, after years of waiting, the Lord had brought the right man into her life—and brought her into his. As hard as I know it was for her to wait all those years, it was worth it. She now has a wonderful husband and a beautiful baby. Maria and I are so happy for them.

Seeing her so happy, as well as thinking about others Maria and I have been close to who have come through long spells of waiting or ongoing tests, increases my faith to trust God when times are bad, or when I’m going through a difficult period. Each of these loved ones that I’m thinking of passed through their own particular “valley of the shadow of death”[1] which was full of difficulties, discouragement, and circumstances that couldn’t easily be changed. In some cases there was no way out but to wait, and to trust that, in time, things would change for the better. The best they could do was to just get through those times, and that meant trusting God while journeying through that valley. They would come for counsel, and while we would try to give them good advice, to comfort and pray for them, there wasn’t really anything that could be done to help them practically.

Each one persevered through their difficulties. They held on to the Lord in faith and prayer, they didn’t give up, and they crossed the valley and came out on the other side. Those difficulties eventually passed. Today, their situations are very different and their lives much happier. Their trust and faith in the Lord has paid off.

Besides the happiness I feel for these loved ones, I also have great admiration for them. Their particular valleys took a long time to travel through—years, in some cases. Some came out of their battles wounded, and they needed time to heal. But each one held on, didn’t give up, and is better and happier for it.

Just today I was reminded of a low time in my life, when I was faced with personal difficulties, which were the most trying I had faced until that point. There was nothing I could do to remedy the situation I was in except to pray and trust God for the outcome—that He would either change the situation or give me the grace to make it through. Thankfully, He did both.

During those traumatic weeks, a dear friend gave me a notebook with a number of Bible verses pasted into it. It was a lifesaver for me. Sometimes all I could do was curl up on my bed and read those verses—nothing else helped. That booklet full of verses was my lifeline during that time of trial.

In time, I passed through that valley. Some years ago I loaned that same notebook to another friend who was experiencing turbulent times. Today, she returned it. When she did, I recalled her journey over the past years and how she too has grown and changed and has much more peace in her life.

These events of the past few days have highlighted for me the importance of trusting the Lord in difficult times. Most trials and tribulations don’t pass immediately; sometimes they last a very long time. In the midst of it you may feel as if you’re being ripped apart, and sometimes all you can do is cry out to Jesus and hold on desperately to the promises in His Word.—All you can do is fight to survive.

Seeing my newly married friend, having another one return my “survival notebook,” and thinking of others who while in their personal valley felt that they would never be happy again, but now are, reminded me that there is new life after passing through that valley of seeming death.—And it’s worth holding on for, worth waiting for, worth fighting for.

[1] Psalm 23:4