"As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive." (Genesis 50:20)One aspect of persevering is the ability to see your past with an eye for redemption. This viewpoint will cause you to see God's fingerprints in your life.. it will keep bitterness from grabbing hold of you.. it will help you have a kingdom view of your life. This view kept Joseph in a place where God could use him to interpret dreams and find favor with Pharaoh.
King David was an amazing man. Who can think of him and not consider his persevering loyalty to King Saul. Though he was anointed king when he was a teenager.. and he could have thought that the kingdom was his for the taking.. he was amazingly patient with Saul.. even when he spent years hiding in caves from a somewhat insane Saul.. sparing Saul's life on several occasions. We get a glimpse of David's heart when he speaks this to Saul:
"The LORD therefore be judge and decide between you and me; and may He see and plead my cause and deliver me from your hand." (1 Samuel 24:15)David was an amazing example of patience - he trusted God to make him king in God's time. From this we see that endurance requires us to believe that God pleads our cause when we simply stay faithful to Him and wait on His timing. It is much easier to do than to say - watching my wife suffer this past week tempts me to think otherwise - David speaks to me and challenges me to be patient.
Job is another person that I think of when I think about persevering. After losing all ten of his children his initial attitude was one of praise and understanding. His initial reaction was good even though his heartsick wife counseled him to curse God and die. As he began to deeply grieve the loss of all of his children we see a man who seemed to hang in there with God when he said:
"As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, And at the last He will take His stand on the earth. "Even after my skin is destroyed, Yet from my flesh I shall see God; Whom I myself shall behold, And whom my eyes will see and not another. My heart faints within me! (Job 19:25-27)Job seemed to have an eternal perspective on his suffering. This to me is so important if we are to persevere. If we suffer all of our lives it is still a small part of our eternal life.. a life that will go on forever with God. I believe that this is what The Blessed Hope is all about.. our hope is not wrapped up in this life.
Lastly, I have to talk about the apostle Paul. A cursory glance at 2Corinthians 11-12 gives us an amazing view about how Paul persevered in suffering. I think about the time in the book of Acts when Paul was imprisoned.. how he and Silas sang.. how the jail shook and the shackles fell - but Paul did not run.. he stayed in jail voicing concern for his jailers soul. He was an amazing picture of perseverance. He writes this about a time when God said no to his prayers:
"Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 12:8-10)I think that perseverance is all about contentment. You know most people can be content when things are going well. Suffering and trials cause our faith to be tested in ways that we never imagined.. but they also produce endurance when they are accompanied by contentment. James puts it this way:
"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." (James 1:2-4)When we are content we can endure trials with joy. When we endure this way we experience an endurance that causes us to be complete. This kind of endurance matures us like nothing else will. I pray that you will hang in there today.. endure.. you will be glad that you did :)