Perseverance. Dictionary.com identifies it as “steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.”
I’d like to think that I’m good at persevering. I think a lot of people would like to believe that about themselves. Perseverance is one of those character qualities that everyone knows is good to have. Unfortunately, it’s one that’s a real struggle to keep hold of.
By its very definition, having perseverance means you’re going to run into trouble. I mean, sure, you can persevere without trouble, but if can you really say someone is persevering if they don’t encounter trouble or danger or discouragement? Can you persevere through good times? Sure. But it doesn’t feel like persevering.
I thought of this word when I read the verse this morning, Romans 12:12.
12 Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.
It’s a very simple verse. Nothing fancy. No frills. But when you get right down to it, it makes no sense at all. Talk about a non sequitur! It goes from rejoicing in the hope we have to exhorting us to be patient in trouble. That doesn’t really flow. If I had been writing, I would have said to rejoice in our hope and then I’d go on to talk about something happy. But I didn’t write this. God did. And He knows what He’s talking about.
Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.
I kind of talked about this yesterday, but have you ever not gotten something you asked God for? Have you spent your entire life serving God and you feel like all He ever seems to give you are trials and tribulations and tests? I know people like that. I know people who have encountered ridiculous things in their lives for no reason I can see. They don’t deserve it. They’ve never done anything to deserve it. Yet God seems intent on allowing every possible bad thing on Earth to happen to them. But some of these folks never give up. They are able to look past the awful circumstances in their lives and see that God is still working and that He has a plan. And on days where I would be crushed underneath a weight of gloom and doom, they’re rejoicing. That is true perseverance.
I was curious this morning about the phrase “confident hope.” I have blogged on it before, but I’ve never searched for it. So I did a Biblegateway.com search and the exact phrase “confident hope” appears five times in the New Living Translation of the Bible. Three of those times is in Romans.
Just glancing through these verses, the confident hope Paul (through God) is talking about is our salvation. And not just our faith in Christ, but our lives down here as well (part of our salvation is living out our life on Earth). Because of what Jesus did for us, because of His sacrifice on the cross, we have hope. And not just hope but confident hope that God knows what He’s doing, that He never makes mistakes, and that He always keeps His promises. And because we have that confident hope, we can rejoice in it and in what God is doing in our lives.
By rejoicing in that confident hope, it’s a lot easier to have patience when trouble comes my way. I’m know if I’m focused on what God has done in my life and what He is currently doing, it’s a lot more natural for me to keep rejoicing when everything crumbles around me. And if I’m still in that frame of mind to rejoice even when the world is falling apart around me, prayer becomes an instantaneous response as well when I don’t know what to do — or even if I do know what to do.
I have to mention that the verse does say “keep on praying” which indicates to me that it’s something I have to repeat. Paul here is assuming that I’m already praying and that I need to continue, persistently. I need to persevere, which means I need to continue in spite of the discouragements, the disappointments, the sadness or the trouble that weighs me down.
It’s not easy. But if it were easy, it wouldn’t be perseverance. It it were easy, it wouldn’t be worth it.