“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him." James 1:12 (NIV)
This is one of those verses that I have grown up knowing. It is underlined in my Bible and I have probably read it a million times since walking this infertility/loss journey. But until recently the word “persevere” has not really stood out to me. It’s amazing how God can use familiar verses to speak to you in different ways at different times. That is how I feel about this one.
I looked up the word “persevere” and this is how dictionary.com defines it: Persevere (verb) - “to persist in anything undertaken; maintain a purpose in spite of difficulty, obstacles, or discouragement; continue steadfastly.” Did you catch that? To maintain a purpose…We’re not created to just merely survive life…we are created to glorify Him, to serve a purpose FOR HIM. A purpose HE has designed for us to live out. And as hard as it is, sometimes that purpose involves trials. We were not created to passively get through life…persevere is a VERB. Verbs require action!
I found this quote in Mary Beth Chapman’s book, Choosing to SEE (GREAT book by the way…more on that later). “Endurance is not just the ability to bear a hard thing, but to turn it into glory.” William Barclay
So often we are focused on just surviving…and sometimes that is simply all we CAN do. But He wants more for us! He doesn’t want us to just survive and bear the trials of life. He has a reason for allowing them to come into our lives and He has a purpose that He wants to reveal through us through those trials. He wants us to take action! To fight the good fight! “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14
When we are overwhelmed with life’s trials we need to remember that He does have a purpose through it all. We might not know what that purpose is but if we stay connected to Him, searching earnestly for what HE wants for us through that trial, doing what He has told us to do through scripture, continually glorifying Him…we are right where He wants us to be!! Fulfilling the purpose He has set out for us.
I don’t want to merely survive…I want to thrive! I want Him to USE me to bring glory to His name. I want Him to USE me to draw others closer to Him! I am ready to persevere. To keep my eyes focused on Him, to keep my eyes on the prize. He has asked me to walk this infertility/loss journey and I want Him to use this journey to help achieve my purpose in life. (Will someone remind me of this later?? I am sure I will need reminders to keep my eyes on Him and not on my circumstances…)
This is turning into a very long post but I encourage you to read the following devotional from…you guessed it…Girlfriends in God.
Friend to Friend
Patience is not one of my greatest strengths. In fact, I tend to live each day with a schedule in mind, an agenda by which to live that day and several goals I need to meet before the day's end. God does have a sense of humor. I can't tell you how many times my schedule falls apart, the agenda is completely forgotten and I have to move today's goals to tomorrow. I am learning that when God wants to build a certain quality in my life, He puts me in the opposite circumstance. For example, if God wants me to be more patient, He arranges the hours and minutes of my day in ways that demand patience.
What is patience? To be patient is to have the ability to endure, but it doesn't stop there. Patience must also have the capacity to be wronged and not retaliate. In other words, patience is love persevering and love waiting. We are not only to be patient in the way we face difficult situations but in our relationships as well. That just about covers life, doesn't it?
One of the most powerful Bible passages on patience and perseverance is found in the book of James. "Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him." Do you want to be blessed? Stand firm in your trial. Do you want to be rewarded? Stand firm in that tough circumstance. Be patient - because patience really does pay off. God promises blessings and rewards to those who persevere and stand firm in hard times. The reason we can stand firm is because God loves us unconditionally and promises to walk with us through every dark moment life will bring. Nothing touches our life that does not pass through God's hand, with His permission.
Remember the Bible story of the man named Job? Job was a faithful servant of God, strong in his faith and unwavering in his obedience to God. Satan didn't like it. In fact, he went to God and asked permission to test Job. I love it! The devil had to go to God like an errand boy in order to get permission to touch His child, Job. Satan was convinced that if Job lost everything God had given him, his health, his family, his possessions, he would curse God and follow Satan. God told the serpent to give it his best shot, convinced that Job would persevere. Satan stripped Job of his health, his possessions, his wealth and his family - everything Job held dear. Job stood firm.
Every trial must come through His love but every trial has a purpose. Every pain has a purpose, every ordeal contains a seed of victory and there is a promise for every problem you and I will ever face. The psalmist writes, "The LORD is my strength, my shield from every danger. I trust in him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy" (Psalm 28:7).
Patience pays off in many ways, but one of the greatest rewards of patience is joy, a deeply-rooted confidence that God is in control. Warren Wiersbe says that "when God permits His children to go through the furnace, He keeps His eye on the clock and His hand on the thermostat!" God will never let us face more than we can handle with His help. Hebrews 12:12 says it so well, "So take a new grip with your tired hands and stand firm on your shaky legs." I have been there, done that and can relate to a weary heart and shaky legs. Can't you?
Patsy Clairmont shares the true story about her son, Jason. When he was seven, she sent him off to school one day. After a little while, there was a knock at the door and when Patsy opened the door, it was Jason. "What are you doing here?" she asked. "I've quit school" he said. "Why have you quit school, Jason?" she demanded. Jason said, "Well, it was too long, it was too hard and it was too boring. And I didn't like a lot of it!" Patsy responded, "Jason, you have just described life. Get back on the bus!" When God sees patience at work in your life, He is pleased by your choice to "get back on the bus" in obedience and in faith.
An evangelist told the story of his friend who, during the depression, lost a job, a fortune, a wife and a home, but he held onto his faith because it was all he had left. One day, he stopped to watch some men building a stone church. One of the workers was chiseling a triangular piece of rock. "What are you going to do with that?" asked the friend. The workman said, "Do you see that little opening way up there near the spire? Well, I'm shaping this down here so that it will fit up there." Tears filled the eyes of the broken man as he walked away. It seemed that God had spoken through the workman to explain the trials of his life. God is using the trials here on earth to refine and purify us. In Colossians 1:11, the apostle Paul writes, "God will strengthen you with his own great power so that you will not give up when troubles come, but you will be patient!"
No matter where you are today, where you have been or what you are facing tomorrow, be patient, knowing your God will strengthen you to stand firm.
Father, please forgive me when I am impatient. Help me to see You at work in the trial and choose to depend on Your strength instead of my own. Help me to see Your purpose and plan but even if I can't understand it all, help me to stand firm in faith. Lord, make me more patient so that others will see You in me.
In Jesus' name,
Now it's Your Turn
Read Romans 12:12 "Be patient when trouble comes." What trouble in your life today requires patience? Are you willing to choose faith and obedience by trusting God with that trouble?
Read 1 Thessalonians 5:14 "Be patient with everyone." What relationship in your life demands patience from you? Evaluate how patient you have been in this relationship. What one thing do you need to change in order to choose obedience to God as you relate to this person?
Read Ephesians 4:2 "Always be humble, gentle and patient." Notice that patience is listed along with two other important qualities that God wants to see in us. How do you think patience relates to humility and gentleness?
Are you ready to persevere with me??