Word for Wednesday… Persistence
Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.Hebrews 12:3-4
The increasing availability of now three approved vaccines for the Covid-19 virus has been welcome news for a society that has become weary of following so many restrictions. Yet amid the positive reports we are hearing of decreasing cases, hospitalizations and deaths, there have been repeated calls for persistence. The experts are telling us it’s still too soon to stop wearing masks, avoiding crowds, and social distancing. But many are struggling to follow their advice. It’s just been too long, and people are so tired of living this way. Can we continue to do these things, can we continue to love our neighbors, especially those of us who have been vaccinated?
The Season of Lent is another context in which we hear calls for persistence. This year for Lent, our family decided to give something up together. Without going into too much detail, it requires a daily meeting where we sit down at the dinner table to journal and discuss what God has been teaching us. It’s been difficult to remember to meet every evening, and every single one of us is ready for Lent to be over. But together, with God’s help, we are keeping each other accountable. If we learn nothing else, we will have learned how vital community is to our growth as Christians.
Something that should challenge all of us to practice persistence when it matters is the example of Jesus. As the author of Hebrews reminds us, we have not been subjected to anywhere near the same level of suffering as Jesus was, and yet he stayed the course, and so we should too. This reminder comes in the context of a metaphor where the author compares the Christian life to running a race, only one that’s less like a sprint and more like a marathon. Jesus did not give up; he stayed the course, and he waits for us at the finish line. We can look to him for inspiration and encouragement. But if that were not enough, if we listen closely, we can hear the cheers of those who have already run this race, sitting in the bleachers, urging us on to victory.
Of course, the persistence Jesus modeled has been demonstrated by God throughout history through his continued faithfulness. God has never given up on his creation. He has never given up on his people. He has never given up on you and me. So don’t you give up on him. And don’t you give up on your struggle to be transformed into the image of his Son. If you gave up something for Lent this year, at this stage in the journey you may be tempted to give in. Maybe you already have. Persist in your efforts to become more like Jesus. Your persistence, coupled with his grace, will bear fruit in due season.
— Pastor Geoff