Friday of 5 Lent

Perseverance

“But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.”  — James 1:19-25  

“…pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints…”  — Ephesians 6:18  

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” — Hebrews 12:1-2

There are two meanings for the Greek word that is translated perseverance. When it refers to our relationship with God, it means to “wait on Him”, or “to cling closely to Him”. When it refers to world, it means to “endure”, “stand fast”, or “wait patiently”. The New Testament uses the word in both ways, but the overall sense is that as Christians we are to endure the hostile and unbelieving world where we currently live, and to cling closely to our life in the Kingdom of God which is our eternal home. What this means is that perseverance is a precondition for attaining salvation and eternal life in Jesus Christ. We stand in faith, and hope in Christ. To do otherwise is to lose our way and fall out of relationship with Him. We are able to endure the suffering in this world because we are found in Christ, “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross…” And for us, standing fast in Him, and through perseverance in His Spirit, we will reign with Him, as He “is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Over this last year we have had numerous opportunities to practice perseverance. It has been a year in which we have all been called to endure many hardships. But just as we have seen in the other virtues we have examined, the learning is in the doing. St. James says in the quote above that “the one who…perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.” It would be so easy for us to hunker down and try, like Elijah did, to run and hide in a cave (1 Kings 19). But as the author of the epistle to the Hebrews reminds us, we are to “run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” 

There has never been a more important time for those who are in Christ to persevere. The world is watching. Are we going to point to Jesus, and put our trust in Him to carry us through these troubled times. Or are we going shy away from the challenges and rely on our own resources to deal with the difficulties. We persevere by waiting on Him, clinging closely to Him. So let us stand fast in the knowledge and the love of God, and wait patiently for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. “To that end, [let us] keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints…”

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