I'm enduring some struggles in my life – I have a teenager – and there are some days when I think, "I can't go on. I can't do this. I want to give up." Day after day of things not going easily or smoothly just makes life tough.
And, then somehow, in some way, I hear something, or read something encouraging and I recommit to persevering. One day, in one of my devotional books, I read a quote by Winston Churchill: "If you're going through hell, keep going." This past weekend, I received a card from a friend who wrote "stay strong in the face of adversity," and she blessed me with courage. The other day it was something I read preparing for a sermon, that Abbot John the Dwarf, a Desert Father in the third century, prayed for the strength to get through the fight. When I'm in the midst of struggle, the challenge is to persevere, to keep on keeping on, to go the distance.
If perseverance isn't a faith discipline, I think that it ought to be. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, "We are pushed hard from all sides. But we are not beaten down. We are bewildered. But that doesn't make us lose hope. Others make us suffer. But God does not desert us. We are knocked down. But we are not knocked out." (II Corinthians 4:8-9, NIrV Kids' Study Bible)
This Sunday, I'll be showing the children a video of Derek Redmond in the 1992 Olympics, when a hamstring tore in his leg. (See YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZlXWp6vFdE) He fell to the ground, and then got up, and limping, finished the race. He persevered to the end. As one person noted, "Derek Redmond may have failed to win the gold medal but he accomplished so much more through this experience. Almost nobody remembers who won that race but 23 years later Redmond and his father continue to be an inspiration to millions of people around the world." That's what persevering does – it inspires. It inspires others to keep on keeping on; it inspires others to not give up; it inspires you to keep going, too.
So, today, I'm going to persevere. Just for today. I can persevere today because God has not deserted me. I'll practice this faith discipline today.