You might want to take a listen to a song I wrote and recorded as you read today’s blog. Here’s the link: http://persevereonline.com
This morning it was barely above zero when I started my 5k run. My body complained as I hit my stride, and after one block I wanted to head home and back into my warm bed.
I wish I could tell you some amazing story of how I pressed on and ran a personal best time in spite of the jarring cold. I can’t. In fact, today ‘s run was a big struggle, and I finished with one of my worst times in months.
But…did you catch the key words of that last sentence? I finished. By God’s grace I kept moving until the end.
One aspect of activating our worship of God that sometimes goes undetected is perseverance. The dictionary defines perseverance as “steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success, or continuance in a state of grace leading finally to a state of glory.” Being steadfast, continuing on in God all the way to a state of glory, this is worship lived out in our life.
Persevering as an expression of worship doesn’t come from some notion we have to tough it out on our own. We’ll only end up tired and discouraged if we attempt this in our own strength. God-given perseverance springs out of the deep inner sense that no matter what we go through in life, God hasn’t left us. He loves us, will never leave us, and has a bigger plan that marches on uninterrupted by unexpected or threatening circumstances. Finally, He has included us in His big plan and promises the end of our story is a happy and victorious one.
To illustrate this, in the third chapter of Habakkuk the writer paints a dark and dismal picture of what was happening in his life. He lives in a country devastated by war and occupation. Fear has been his companion, and he is tempted to give in to the black hole of despair. As a farmer and rancher, the worst-case scenario has happened: There is no fruit on any of the fig trees or grape vines. The olive crop has failed. All his sheep have died in the field, and his cattle barns are empty. But then, out of the blue, he makes this amazing statement:
“…yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights” (Habakkuk 3:18-19).
The writer of Habakkuk understood that God is still God even in dark times, and so made the conscious choice to worship God above and beyond what he was currently experiencing. He made the choice to speak this truth aloud in the midst of the ugliness around him. He planted his flag of faith in the ground and chose to move forward toward God’s intended future in God’s power, rather than remain stuck in the temporary present circumstances.
It’s easy to worship God in smooth times, when every day seems sunny and pleasant. It’s quite another thing to praise Him in the middle of a storm, one that lasts for months or even years. When an illness strikes you or someone you love, when death brings a sad silence to a home, when the economic rug gets pulled out from underneath us through unemployment or financial losses, or when someone leaves you high and dry, it can feel the world is coming to an end.
But because of God, your story doesn’t end there. Even through tears we can worship God from wherever we are because He is still taking us to a glorious future just beyond our sight. We can persevere with God because He still holds us in the palm of His hand. He will take us, step by step, to a place that will one day cause us to look at hard times as nothing compared to the amazing glory and exhilaration we then experience.
People who keep going forward with God through the hard times of life also develop an inner spiritual discipline, a willingness to grow and learn, and a sustainable personal pace. These are the ones who emerge intact at the end of the tough times. Through the hard times of life they learn this truth:
“God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).
Persevering becomes an act of worship as we both speak and live out our trust in God. To persevere with God, it’s important to have a network of Christ-followers as a support team to help you, cheer you on, and bring grace and truth as you press on in God’s course for your life. These people will be your cheerleaders and witnesses to God’s faithfulness, as the Scripture states:
“…Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1).
Worship God and look to His strength as you continue running the race of life, even when the finish line isn’t yet in sight and you don’t feel the energy you had when you first started. Jesus promised us there’s a fantastic prize awaiting when you successfully finish God’s course:
“To him who overcomes, I will grant to sit with me on my throne” (Revelation 3:21).
There’s an amazing crown of life for all who run the race and persevere to the finish line with Jesus Christ. The prize is worth all the pain and struggle of running the race. Jesus will be there to joyfully greet us face-to-face, and we will be forever free of the struggles and bonds that hindered us in this life. Finally, we will be in such utter awe and amazement of Jesus that we will celebrate, explore, love, and worship Him for all eternity. It will be more than mere worship for a lifetime. It will be perfect, exciting, face-to-face worship of God that stretches throughout eternity.
“Don’t give up my friend…persevere!”
Let me know if you would like a copy of the lyrics to the song “Persevere”
Also you can purchase it on i-tunes and other fine music sources.
Blessings to you!