"Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful." James 5:11
We are so easily swayed to give up these days. I mean people as a whole. We try something new, we try a new skill or try to form a new habit, and if it doesn't go well for us quickly, we drop it and move on to something else. Think of all the New Year's resolutions that come along and get dropped before the first month of the year is even past. We start a new diet and it lasts a few weeks before we just can't take it anymore and we cheat. We start a new Bible reading schedule, and we keep at it until we have a busy day and we skip it that once- only that one time becomes days and then weeks and then months... We decide to lend a hand with a different ministry at church or some other organization and that lasts as long as their schedule works with ours. The minute something changes with a schedule, we move on, claiming that we just don't have time.
Why are we so quick to dismiss the things that are good for us or will build us up? I even think of learning a new skill or hobby. How many people decide they'd like to learn to do something new, get partway and then discover that learning this new skill is difficult? I decided to learn to knit a few years ago. It was tough for me to focus on counting and winding this yarn, so I decided it wasn't for me. Then this winter Abigail wanted to learn, so I picked it back up again and found the ultimate satisfaction in completing a knitting project. It's not so difficult with a little practice. And yet, Abigail learned quickly, but decided it wasn't for her either- too much work for such a small little project. I have a yard full of weeds and garden spaces with potential- if only I would get out there and get to work. But I am so daunted by the enormity of the task before me that the idea of even beginning is not particularly welcoming.
Job was the ultimate example that persistence pays off. His life was completely in the dumps, but he persisted in loving God with all his heart. He persisted in not blaming God for all the calamity that had befallen him. The easy thing for him to do would have been to agree with those friends of his who just kept going on and on and on about how God was at fault. He chose the hard road- the difficult one of choosing to not blame God and to disagree with the only companions he had. persistence for Job was rewarded when God saw his heart and dedication, and God blessed him abundantly for it.
Last week I had an area that I needed to be persistent in. It's so small and minute, but it really spoke to me at the time. I've been filling in with the drum playing at church, which is going well, I just need more practice. But one area of improvement that I didn't anticipate needing was in regards to my muscles. By the time I was finished with two church services, my legs felt like Jell-o. I had sore muscles that evening and into the next day, and I quickly determined that I needed to do something about it. The last time I recall feeling these particular muscles so sore was years ago when I had begun a step aerobics workout. I determined that I needed to start a step aerobic workout and get these muscles back into shape. The kids and I cleaned up the basement, and the day I chose to begin my workout, I sat there with my DVD, DVD player, TV and step, and could not get the DVD to work. The player is so basic, it doesn't have any buttons on it other than "play" and "stop", and the remote has vanished, so I could not choose anything on the menu to play. I almost gave up. There I was, ready to begin, and there just was no way to begin. I was ready to just give up before I even began.
Oh, I had options. I could have moved the whole set-up to another TV/DVD in the house, but neither location really appealed, as furniture would need to be moved around. As I sat there wondering what else I could do to work these muscles, I realized that all I needed was a remote control. So I ran to the store, bought a remote, and about one hour after I'd intended to do my workout, everything was a go, and I did my workout. Perseverance that day felt really, really good. I really felt like I'd accomplished something, and I did not let the devil ruin my good intentions of improving myself for the benefit of my church family. I stuck with it, I did what needed to be done, and I did my workout a few times last week. As soon as I'm done here I'm off to do it again.
Paul persevered, and at the end of his life, he could be confident in saying so. Let's fight the good fight too! While we may not be a grand apostle touring the world and saving thousands of souls for Jesus, it's just as important for us to learn to persevere in our everyday. Sometimes that may just mean getting all the laundry done for a change, or getting the dishes done in a timely manner. Every step counts, and when we can learn to stick with the small stuff, we'll have an easier time learning to stick with the big stuff.
"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." 2 Timothy 4:7