“I feel like I’m going backwards. I’m at the point where some mornings, I can barely make myself get out of bed…..I can’t even write a blog post – how can I talk to other people about health and wellness when I can’t help myself?”Terri Sutula, personal trainer, health coach, nutrition coach
Terri Sutula offered to guest post for me while I go through some health issues. When this hit my inbox, I thought, “How appropriate for the day.” I previously wrote a series of posts on perseverance but I needed reminding. I recently added one more issue to my health list and I found myself on the verge of tears even though the doctor was giving me good news. Maybe Terri’s words will be just as encouraging for you today…
I was talking to my husband, throwing myself a little ‘pity party’ because I’m in a long-term fibromyalgia flare. During these times, sometimes I’m tempted to give up on trying to develop the ministry God laid on my heart years ago, but I know it’s important that I persevere.
Have you ever been there? Have you ever felt there was something you were supposed to do, but rather than things going smoothly, every time you turned around you hit a roadblock?
I really wish there was an ‘EASY button’ like in the Staples commercial, but that’s just not how life works, and especially not how the Christian life works. You see, learning to persevere is part of our growth process as Christ-followers. Take a look at what James tells us about perseverance:
What is Perseverance?
What do we mean when we talk about perseverance? When we look at its definition, we see that it can have both practical and spiritual applications. According to dictionary.com, perseverance is
“steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement. Theology. continuance in a state of grace to the end, leading to eternal salvation.”www.dictionary.com
Did you notice that the definition says “steady persistence….especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement?” You see, it’s pretty easy to keep moving forward when everything’s going well, but what happens when we start to encounter those difficulties?
That’s where perseverance comes in.
I have to admit, one of the enemy’s greatest weapons against me is discouragement because when things start to go awry, I start to question my calling. “Did God really put this on my heart? Did I misunderstand Him? Should I just give up on this idea?”
Then I remember Paul’s words in Romans:
“….we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”Romans 5:3,4
While I’m definitely not suffering, this helps me see that I need to go through these difficulties in order to grow. Think about it — if everything went smoothly all the time, where would we have the opportunity to grow?
The same is true in our day-to-day Christian lives. If we didn’t ever encounter difficulty, how would we learn perseverance? Learning to keep going even when times are tough is part of our growth as Christians. Notice what perseverance produces — character. And that character gives us hope – the knowledge that God will fulfill His promises. That’s what helps us continue in that “state of grace” referenced in our definition.
Regardless of the obstacles, the difficulties, the discouragement… Christ’s power has, as Peter tells us, “given us everything we need for a godly life.” (2 Peter 1:3)
What’s Our Role?
So if Christ has already given us everything we need for a godly life, why do we need to do anything? Take a look at the rest of the passage from 2 Peter:
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.2 Peter 1:5-8 (NIV)
You see, we’re to be active participants in Christ’s work in our lives. In the Bible, we never see Christ interact with someone and then say, “Okay, you’re good – now don’t do anything.” Instead, encounters with Him are usually followed by, “Now go and….”
We are to continue to “work out [our] salvation.” (Philippians 2:12) That doesn’t mean our works save us, but that we should, out of gratitude for what He has done for us, endeavor to grow
in holiness — to strive to be more and more like Christ. Perseverance is a vital part of our sanctification process.
When we experience those obstacles in our Christian walk, it’s important to focus on Jesus, take the long-term view, and remember that our struggles are molding us into the person God wants us to be. A person growing into the likeness of Christ.
I don’t know about you, but the awareness that God is using my challenges to grow me helps me keep going, no matter what obstacles I may face. My prayer for you, my friend, is Paul’s prayer for the Thessalonians:
May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.2 Thessalonians 3:5 (NIV)
Terri is a child of God, a wife, and a mother. She’s also a certified Personal Trainer, Health Coach, and Nutrition Coach who wants to help others be as healthy as is possible for them. On her blog, Olive Tree Saints, she shares information and tools you can use to help you cultivate wellness, grow in your faith, and share God’s love.