Perseverance is not a particularly happy word, but it is a strong word—full of iron. It implies making a conscious decision to face reality and to persist with hope. I think of the Lord’s words found in Isaiah 50:7: “Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore, I have set my face like a stone, determined to do his will. And I know that I will not be put to shame.” These words illustrate the essence of persevering: God’s help and strength, our hearts determined to do His will, and His assurance of victory.
I did not grow up in a Christian home. We went to church rather sporadically, but it was more social than biblical. My father was fun loving but also a borderline alcoholic. There were frequent hearty disagreements between my mom and dad, followed by days of silence, then somehow things went back to normal until the next episode. Many nights I cried myself to sleep.
When I was twelve years old, I was given an opportunity to ask Christ into my life and I responded without any reservation. Although I had very little spiritual teaching, I did have a heart of God. I think it was then that I began to learn to persevere. The Lord became my refuge, my safe place. When I was in pain, I cried out and He was there for me.
As I moved through the next thirty-seven years, it was the Lord who gave me the love and patience I needed to interact with my dad. Each time we were together, I sensed God encouraging me, “You can do this. My grace is all you need. I am the strength of your heart.”
Hebrews 11 clearly details the lives of men and women who exercised great faith while facing compelling challenges. We read that some of them were tortured, some chained in prison, some escaped death by the edge of the sword. Yet verse 34 notes, “Their weakness was turned to strength.” Their example of faith and endurance serves to encourage us to trust God to perfect His power in our weaknesses, Hebrews 12:1-2 exhorts us, then, to run our race with the same endurance these faithful pioneers experienced.
My dad did come to know the Lord shortly before he died, but he was never spiritually sensitive enough to help or encourage me in my race. Yet for the many years I have had to confront heartache and hard times, my heavenly Father has wrapped His arms around me and said, “I am here; we’ll get through this together, for My strength is made perfect in your weakness.”
Push Through the Pain
Sometimes it seems that we go through one iron regimen after another. Running with a heavy heart can become a way of life. We do need the iron of the Lord entering our soul to see us through to the golden crown of glory. We have to keep going—to persevere, to work—but we are “seen through” our trials through the power of the Holy Spirit. I think that Derek Redmond’s experience [Google “50 stunning Olympic moments”] illustrates in a symbolic way this truth: “Our part is to work, but to do so in reliance upon God to enable us to work. God’s work does not make our effort unnecessary, but rather makes it effective.”
As you run your race, you can experience many “torn hamstrings” and the reality of performing your daily tasks with deep sorrow in your spirit. Perhaps there are times when you feel, as the psalmist David felt, that people are ready to throw rocks at you. Perhaps you are facing disease, troubled children, unemployment, failed relationships, and you feel the searing pain of hopelessness and helplessness. This, above all times, is when you lean upon the Lord as your strong Shepherd who protects and comforts you with His rod and staff.
Keeping a journal and expressing your feelings in heartfelt prayers as Hannah and David did can be invaluable. Recording God’s faithfulness to strengthen you in the midst of your trials helps you to remember His unfailing love, enabling grace, and glorious power to give you all the endurance and patience you need.
Seek His strength by running to Him as your fortress, your refuge in times of distress. Admit your helplessness by crying out to God and resting upon nothing but His omnipotence. You trust, you pray, you hope, you abide in Him. He, and He along, is the strength of your heart. You can persevere because you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.
You’ve been reading an excerpt from Becoming a Woman of Strength by Cynthia Heald. Part of a comprehensive Bible study series, this eleven-week study will encourage you to depend upon the strength of the Lord to commit, wait, seek, pray, serve, and persevere throughout your life. Available from navpress.com.