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Have you ever taken a moment to celebrate the power of perseverance? It is easy for us to find complaints and criticism about the many difficulties we have faced in life. The bad hands that our childhood or upbringing brought us, illness and disease that have taken their toll, long-term consequences from bad decisions.
For so many of us, if we continue to list our share of difficulties, it can be easy to find ourselves overwhelmed and overtaken by all of the negative that life brings – not even in comparison with others. For so many people, it is easy to see the negative, whether in our lives directly, the circumstances around us, or our world.
However, what so many do not consider is that, through all of the difficulties of life; whether real or imagined, whether self-inflicted or dealt to us by circumstances beyond our control; somehow, someway, you have persevered and endured through them! In our seemingly shallow, superficial culture, we do not recognize and celebrate the power of perseverance. And for so many believers, being short-sighted by the afflictions and adversities of the present takes our focus off of the undergirding supernatural strength of God that has kept us through it all.
As the hymn writer John Newton shares in the infamous “Amazing Grace,” “Thru many dangers, toils and snares I have already come; ‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, And grace will lead me home.”
I want to encourage you to take consistent moments to celebrate the power of perseverance. And if you genuinely celebrate, you will come to recognize that it wasn’t your power that enabled you to survive the storms of life, but the supernatural power of God working in and through your life.
This is the Apostle Paul’s testimony as he writes to the Church at Corinth; speaking on the nature of his Christian ministry, Paul writes of the contrasting suffering and support he’s experienced as a minister of the Gospel. This description is the tension-filled, paradoxical life of every Christian, the seeming contradiction that often describes our life that, upon further reflection, makes sense.
Second Corinthians 4:8-9 captions a portion of this paradox; “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.”
Despite the myriad of circumstances that surround and describe his life, Paul recognizes that, by God’s grace and immeasurably great power working in and through Him, he has survived through them all.
We must note that Paul’s circumstances are diverse and numerous. Later on in this letter, Paul lists some of his life’s hardships as he served the Lord (11:23-28). He has encountered imprisonment, countless beatings to the point of death, five times being struck with 39 lashes, beaten with rods, once stones, and three times shipwrecked, just to name a few!
And yet, through all of these hardships, Paul survives with God-given security even in the midst of suffering. This is the God-powered perseverance that keeps Paul through the valley of the shadow of death.
When Paul’s human feebleness and fragility are exposed by life’s afflictions, perplexities and persecutions, God’s divine power goes to work, keeping him from being completely crushed, desperate, or destroyed. When friends abandoned him, God was ever-present with him.
And the good news for you and me is that the same power of perseverance that kept Paul is what keeps us through the difficulties and despair of life. Through our own trials and troubles, God supernaturally keeps us.
As J. T. Fitzgerald states, “The vessel is held together by the power of divine adhesive.” You are still here and still intact because God has been holding you together. And that is worth celebrating, specifically celebrating the goodness, greatness and grace of God!