For this week’s Monday Minute, Michelle shares with us what God has been teaching her about how perseverance produces growth.
Perseverance Produces Growth
by Michelle Hieb
Each week I sat in an uncomfortable child-sized chair in the child-sized waiting room outside of the speech therapist’s office while two of my boys attended their weekly session. How many years had it been now? Each week I stared at the cute inspirational poster listing characteristics they hoped to develop in students. Each week I scoffed at one of the characteristics because I knew it can’t be taught–perseverance.
It’s a characteristic I want each of my children to have, yet one I, as a parent, strive to protect them from ever having to develop. It’s one I want for myself, but, if I’m honest, dread obtaining. Because buried in the word is the source. If you want to have the characteristic of perseverance, you have to go through something severe. This military lifestyle gives us many opportunities to endure severe situations. Deployments for those who stay and those who go. Starting over every couple of years. Living in places we would never have chosen for ourselves often far from our families of origin.
So what’s the point of perseverance?
Strong’s Greek Lexicon describes the greek word hypomonē, which the NIV translates perseverance, as the “characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and suffering.” In Romans 5:3, Paul tells us that “suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character hope.” Simon Peter breaks it down even farther:
“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, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness love.”
2 Peter 1: 5-7 (NASB)
Thanks, Peter, this feels a little more possible to me. We all start at the same place-faith. Yup, I have faith, right now…but sometimes I cry out, “I believe, help me in my unbelief!” Will that keep me from goodness? Now goodness, that seems a little tricky, maybe if I just don’t tell anyone about that one thing? Knowledge-I can do that I can read my Bible and learn about God, but, sometimes I get a little confused by what I read. Self-control? Hmmm, just keep the Oreos away… if I learn to eat only one serving of Oreos at a time, does that get me perseverance?
Peter says after perseverance comes godliness.
What exactly is godliness? I remember hearing something about cleanliness once, does that have anything to do with it? And once I’m godly? I can love with brotherly love (NIV), and once I’ve obtained brotherly love, I can love with God’s love? I really do want to that kind of love, my love sometimes leans on the self-centered side.
God gives us the power to persevere.
Thanks, Peter, I can’t do any of this. Oh, but there is joy! Paul and Peter both understood it’s not about what I can do…in verse 3 Peter first reminds me that “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” ( 2 Peter 1:3 NIV) It’s God’s divine power that is going to work this out in me.
Paul gets this too as he follows his little pep talk about suffering with “And hope does not disappoint us because God poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom he has given us.” (Romans 5:5 NASB) The Holy Spirit, God is going to do all this work in us. Every one of these steps is God walking us through.
Faith? Just need the size of a mustard seed.
Goodness? Christ’s redemption.
Knowledge? The Holy Spirit.
Self-Control? That’s the Holy Spirit again.
All this getting from Faith to God’s love is a journey of one step at a time. I have the choice to trust God and let him lead me until I realize that the suffering really is joy because the Holy Spirit is doing the work of God in my life. It is all possible by the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus. Hebrews 12:1 tells me to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”(NIV) When I realize God is the one who actually marked out my race, it doesn’t seem nearly as impossible. He knows me, he loves me, and he wants me to obtain godliness.
Endure and Grow Together
This is why God doesn’t ask us to run someone else’s race. Have you ever looked at a friend’s burden and thought how does she carry that? I could never! Or maybe you’ve had a friend say “I just don’t know how you do it” (whatever it is). It’s because God didn’t design them for your life or vice versa. But he did design us to encourage and walk alongside each other and to share the burden. As we walk together and share each other’s burdens, perseverance produces growth in us all.
If you are in the midst of something so severe, you are thinking of quitting, of giving up, please don’t. Dear sister, let hope work in your life. Do not be like the one who has forgotten that he has been cleansed from past sin (2 Peter 1:9) but remember that Christ has experienced all your pain to obtain your forgiveness and to give you LIFE. Reach out now and don’t walk alone. You can exercise that mustard seed of faith by calling 1-800-273-8255 or reach out to a battle buddy or chaplain. You do not walk alone.
READ: James 1:2-5
REFLECT: According to James, how is perseverance developed and what is its purpose? Have you embraced joy or are you resisting God’s maturation process?
RESPOND: Ask God for what you need to complete your race.
Father, we don’t like suffering, we do all we can to avoid it. Yet, you say, to count it joy, to rejoice when the suffering comes. That you will use it to make us more like you. Holy Spirit fill us, that we may run the race and be filled with God’s love. Amen.