The Bible speaks of perseverance using different words and looks at different areas of life. The idea of ‘keeping on keeping on’ in Christ is however the commonality.
Perseverance is applicable in both the good times and the difficult. Both life conditions test the legitimacy of faith. Solomon recognized these dual faces of life with their associated vulnerabilities. “Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, 9 lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God” (Proverbs 30:8-9).
What’s needed is simple trust. It starts with trusting “in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6). A focused trust provides the right motivation to persevere. “All your heart” is what the Lord looks for, nothing less, otherwise you will be inclined to trust your own inadequate ideas and abilities.
Wisdom at work
Notice how Solomon explained whose understanding you should trust in; God’s, and not your own. We know so little about the universe and even less about our own lives. Therefore, trust must qualify itself by depending on the sovereign creator God, the God who sustains life itself; while all the time rejecting self-dependency, which is a form of idolatry.
Putting self-reliance in life’s back seat is a significant step toward a surrendered attitude. Obedient behaviour will then follow more naturally. These picture a God centred walk in your life more accurately and better equips you in allowing God to make the paths of your life straight. This does not mean everything will be sweet all of the time. But it does mean you know the one who is directing the events of life and is equipping your heart and mind to rise above the difficulties.
As the Lord “make[s] straight your paths,” you will notice that keeping your heart aligned with God’s will becomes increasingly pleasurable as you explore His written Word. Prioritising God’s will for your life places life’s circumstances secondary to being who God wants you to be. Thinking that you need to figure out all the ins and outs of life needs to become insignificant. Relying upon and accepting comfort from the assurance of knowing that God has already figured everything out, instils much needed peace and joy. In this way God straightens, aligns, and directs the paths of your life.
Trust builds perseverance
Trust in the Lord Jesus inspires us to “lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2). Looking determinately on the Lord Jesus, who is the source of our faith (Eph 2:8-9), places ourselves in the secondary arena of life. It’s here that the Lord develops the quality of personal faith. This is part of sanctification and transforms believers “from one degree of glory to another… which comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
The fact is, it’s the Lord who graciously grows Christian perseverance in the believer. He equally engages you in Christ focused living which energises the required determination for perseverance. This Spirit fuelled life can only happen as you forget what lies behind and strain forward to what lies ahead (Philippians 3:13). It’s a long-term vision for the Christian life that leans hard into Christ with an expectation of ever-increasing Christlikeness.
I encourage you to develop perseverance for Christ which is without compromise and refuses to allow distractions in life to deter you.