Perseverance

Senior Living Ministries

Several months ago my wife Joanie was driving home after visiting our grandkids. On the road in front of her was a car with a license plate that had the letters “DNTGVUP”.

Curious, she changed lanes to see who was driving, half-expecting to see a battle-scarred person in their eighties who looked something like Winston Churchill.

Instead, she saw a young woman who looked like she was in the prime of life!

Age doesn’t seem to matter when it comes to facing storms, does it? There are all kinds of circumstances in life that can make you feel depleted – like you want to “throw in the towel.”

Maybe that’s how you’re feeling today. And just like David in Psalm 13, you’re crying out “How long, Lord?”

  • How long must I face these financial difficulties?
  • How long must I face this illness?
  • How long will I grieve for a lost loved one?
  • How long will my spouse reject me?
  • How long will I be lonely?

Whatever you’re facing, DNTGVUP. Because God is with you and through His Word you can stand strong until the race is finished.

The Psalms give powerful insight into persevering through the trials of life. Look at Psalm 84:5-7 where the writer declares the blessedness of a believer who journeys in faith. There are parallels you can draw from the Israelite on his journey to worship God in Jerusalem and your journey to God in the New Jerusalem–Heaven.

“Blessed are those whose strength is in You, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Weeping, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength till each appears before God in Zion.” Psalm 84:5-7

1. FOCUS ON PURSUING GOD

“Blessed are those whose strength is in YOU…” Psalm 84:5a.

Throughout life, you are able to persevere through difficulties because your strength is in God and you intimately know Him. This is not just knowing about Him, like you might know about a famous person like Abraham Lincoln; this is knowing God personally, intimately, where you are supremely passionate about Him. As the greatest commandment would teach: “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). When I was a young seminary student, I served in a church in Pasadena, California, Lake Avenue Congregational Church. Our Senior Pastor was Dr. Raymond Ortlund. Pastor Ray was very passionate about knowing God and challenging us to pursue and love Him with our whole heart! His expression in his exhortation was, “Go hard after God!” Bottom line, when you know and love God with a whole heart, you will experience His joy and strength to help you persevere.

“Who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.” Psalm 84:5b

Another insight from verse 5 is the importance of setting your heart on pilgrimage to reach a great destination. Like the old song goes, “This world is not my home, I’m just a-passing through…” Our hearts and minds are set on a journey that ends in heaven. We’re not stuck in this world’s problems and trials forever. We’re moving on to something greater! Situations don’t seem quite so bad when you know you’re just passing through.

Just as our hearts are set on pilgrimage, Scripture speaks profoundly about our minds being set on God and His truth. Colossians 3:2 says, “Think about the things of Heaven, not the things of earth.” II Corinthians 10:5 states, “. . . take every thought captive to obey Christ.” These are just a few of the Scriptures that point out that the Christian life is won or lost in what we set our minds on! Romans 8:6 teaches, “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.”

2. RECOGNIZE THAT TEARS CAN BE USED FOR GOOD

“As they pass through the Valley of Weeping, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools.” Psalm 84:6

The Israelite’s journey on the way to worship God passed through the barren “Valley of Weeping.” This valley suggests times of tears and struggles through which people must pass on their way to their final destination.

God so desires you to be real with Him and to share your heart, even your tears. King David writes this about our compassionate God, “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in Your bottle. You have recorded each one in Your book” (Psalm 56:8). Whether you struggle with loneliness, illness, grief, the waywardness of a loved one, finances, or relational challenges, God knows your pain, sees your tears, and hears your prayers.

And here’s an opportunity! Did you ever ask God to use you? We were made to make God real to those around us. How a person handles adversity can be a huge life lesson to those watching. Right now is your moment! As you spend time with God and ask Him to use you, the adversity of the Valley of Weeping becomes an opportunity to experience God’s faithfulness even more deeply and show others around you what it looks like when a Christian believer goes through suffering.

3. KNOW THAT THERE IS GRACE FOR TODAY AND BRIGHT HOPE FOR TOMORROW

“They go from strength to strength until each appears before God in Zion.” Psalm 84:7

With God’s help we are able to take the next step with the next strength; like daily “manna,” God’s grace is sufficient for each day.

II Corinthians 4:16-17 makes this powerful statement: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”

Last fall, Joanie and I were hiking a trail in the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. This particular circular hike promised beautiful double drop waterfalls en route. As we were climbing up a strenuous part of the path, another hiker was making her way down, having already seen the waterfall area. With a huge smile on her face she told us, “It’s worth it!! Even if it was 10 times longer to get there, it would be worth it!” So it is with Heaven, my friend. It will certainly be worth whatever you’ve had to endure here on earth.

God desires for all of us to persevere with hope in Him. And remember this truth: God will never give up on you and His love will never let you go.

Annie Johnson Flint (1866-1923) knew all about persevering. When her arthritis became so severe that she was unable to walk, she went to see doctors who told her she would become a helpless invalid. She eventually was unable to open her hands and could no longer write, but she continued to compose many poems on a typewriter using only her knuckles. Despite her great suffering and trials, she wrote many hymns that bless people around the world even to this day.

Annie would be the first to tell you she sought healing, but in the end she was thoroughly convinced that God intended to glorify Himself through her in her weak condition. Her personal life verse was: “My grace is sufficient for thee for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

This truth is beautifully described in her song:

“He Giveth More Grace”

He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength as the labors increase;
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials His multiplied peace.

His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

I wanted to share a few quotes about perseverance that I love. I hope you enjoy them!

God, You have an amazing way of always doing more with less. We give You our limitations and Your Spirit is set free to accomplish far more through us than we ever imagined. I bless You for my weaknesses.
~Joni Eareckson Tada

Remember that guy who gave up? Neither does anyone else.
~Anonymous

God gives us magnificent opportunities that are brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.
~Charles Swindoll

Questions

1. Think about a time when you didn’t quit, but persevered. What did you learn about yourself and God?

2. Scripture teaches that strength to persevere comes primarily through a strong relationship with God. What step can you take to strengthen that relationship?

3. How can God use your response to something you are persevering through currently to help others know God better?

4. If you stopped asking God to change your external circumstances
and prayed instead a prayer of surrender, asking Him to change you,
what do you think would happen? What keeps you
from praying this kind of prayer?

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