Back in my mid-twenties and early thirties, I was a runner. There was nothing I enjoyed more than putting on my running shoes and hitting the road for an hour or more. I ran several half marathons during that time period, but really I just ran for me. That was the time that I cleared my head and processed life. I worked out self-doubt, emotions and had my best ideas in that alone time. Some people say they always get good ideas in the shower. Not me. Mine came on the pavement.
I still remember a time before that when I despised running. When I was 22 I trained for a sprint triathlon (shorter distances of swimming, biking and running) and training for the running part was brutal. I kept at it, though, because I had a bigger goal in mind. Then one day it just clicked. It didn’t seem hard at all – my legs, my lungs, my brain…they all seemed to be working together instead of yelling at one another. If I had given up even one day earlier I never would have come to that moment.
That’s what perseverance is all about – keeping with something, even when it’s hard so that eventually we will see the payoff. Often that “hard” time looks like suffering. Whether physically, mentally or emotionally, we wonder just how long we can keep going and often consider throwing in the towel before we even get close to the finish line. But the Bible tells us (at least twice) that we should be joyful in our trials [James 1:2] or to glory in our suffering [Romans 5:3] because it produces perseverance.
For a long time, I considered that perseverance to be my own. I imagined I was building up muscles of faith as I struggled through parts of life, each time getting stronger and stronger to endure what may come next. It created a tough skin and a way to deal with hard times on my own. One day, not that long ago, I had an “ah ha!” moment when I realized it wasn’t my own perseverance that the Bible was talking about. Really it creates a trust and deeper faith and love with our Savior knowing that He is with us through those troubled times. And the harder the trouble and the longer the journey, the deeper that trust can become. Things just click.
We can “finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given us” [Acts 20:24] because our trust and faith in Him is what provides the perseverance and endurance we require. Has there been a task you’ve been striving for with your own strength lately? Can you see an opening to lean into God? Let us know – we would love to pray with you.
Sara is the Programs Director for Women’s NonProfit Alliance, Executive Director of Layla’s Legacy Foundation and published author and blogger at www.sarastamp.com