InPursuit

Discipline of Perseverance {Book Club Thursday}

Welcome!

We’re jumping into Barbara Hughes’, Disciplines of a Godly Woman (affil. link).
For your convenience, all the posts in the series will be archived here. Or, to make life even easier, subscribe to our Book Club Thursdays newsletter and receive all book club posts directly to your email. 

You will also receive a link to our private FB group where we can chat through some of the concepts in this book and a free PDF downloadable Study Sheet

I hope you’re ready for the ride, because it’s going to be filled with encouragement, insight, and God-inspired wisdom.

Chapter 9: Discipline of Perseverance, Submission’s Challenge

“Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

Hebrews 12:1

Perseverance is defined in the dictionary as, “steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.”

Without having to ask, I’m sure we can all share stories about the difficulties, challenges, obstacles, and delays in the vision we’ve had for our lives. Life can be tough. Difficult. Impossible even. And yet, Hebrews admonishes us to run with perseverance the race that God marked out for us. There is a course, one designed specifically for me… uniquely for you. And that course is the one we’re to persevere in.

I wonder how many times we persevere in our bad attitudes, in our wrong thinking, in our selfish agenda?

Yet, we’re weak and flimsy and all topsy-turvy when it comes to persevering in the race God specifically marked out for us. We’d do well to pause, get real with where we’re at, where we’re headed, and what’s at stake–what’s waiting for us on the other side?

This clear and decisive act of thinking through the process will help motivate us towards the goal.

Barbara shares the definition of perseverance as taken from The Dictionary of Biblical Imagery: “perseverance is rooted in confidence in the Lord. It is produced by suffering (Romans 5:3; James 1:3) and produces character, ‘so that [we] may be mature and complete, not lacking anything’ (James 1:4; Romans 5:4).

A Means of Perfecting Us

It’s hard to believe, and even harder to accept, that suffering is used to develop and mature us. Perseverance is the confidence in the Lord needed to get through the difficulty at hand. It’s one of the ways God perfects us.

“As Christians we are already perfectly acceptable to God through faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus. Christ’s righteousness has become our own. What is achieved through perseverance is not righteousness but maturity. This maturing process regularly involves testing.”

Reading through Scripture we find so many men and women who were transformed and matured through their suffering. Joseph experienced the utterly shameful betrayal of his brothers. He was thrown in a pit, sold into slavery, falsely accused, and thrown into prison to be forgotten. And yet, he remained faithful to the One who remained faithful to him.

Then there’s Paul, goodness gracious did he go through it. In his own words, “I have…been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.  Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked,” (2 Corinthians 11:23-27).

And yet, he’s the same man who tells us to “rejoice in the Lord always” and “I have learned to be content with little” (Phil. 4:4,11). He’s the one who wrote letter after letter to encourage the churches around the region, and all while sitting in a prison cell.

Yes, indeed, perseverance through suffering and trials is God’s way of perfecting us that we might be mature and complete in Him. The process takes us back to the Source. Jesus Christ. It causes us to look up to God who alone has the answers, the resources, the ability.

And the beautiful part of all this is that God himself is at work to help you persevere. The Holy Spirit intercedes on behalf of the Christian, Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God,” (Romans 8:26-27). 

A Means of Spreading the Gospel

In the book of Acts we see a clear example of suffering used as a means to spread the Gospel. As the believers were persecuted, they fled to neighboring areas. The Gospel of Jesus Christ kept moving and the Church of Jesus Christ kept expanding. They had a perfect example of what this looked like in Jesus Christ who’d gone before them.

“Jesus knew when He left that upper room with His disciples that He would face His greatest test of persevering faith–remaining resolute to do God’s will in facing the cross…”The world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me. Come now, let us leave,” (John 14:31). The world learns through our determined, loving obedience to God’s will in the face of adversity that God is worth it!”

In Persevering We See God

Suffering is difficult because the problem is so in-your-face it makes seeing beyond almost impossible. In our flesh, we feel the pain, the fatigue, the stress, the heartache of it all. The problem seems insurmountable, the obstacle too big to get past, and the hurt to deep to heal.

Perseverance is the sheer grit of holding fast to our hope believing that what we see is not the end of our story. It causes us to wrestle down the lies of the enemy, to continue in faith, and to cling fast to Jesus! We find perspective and we grow in our knowledge of God.

I love how Paul puts it in Philippians 3, Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead,” (v. 8-11).

“It is through times of difficulty that we best learn of God’s character and love because God then has our full attention.”

How Do We Persevere?

It’s clear. Perseverance is submission’s challenge. Because it’s difficult work. It’s counter-cultural. It’s not easy. We see the promises Scripture gives to those who persevere. But how do we walk this out practically?

How about we close with some verses to ponder on. Practically, this will involve taking God’s word and recording it in our hearts. It will take faith. It will take abiding in Jesus. It will take trust. It will take hope. It will take one step forward followed by another.

2 Timothy 4:7-8, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.”

Hebrews 12:2, “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

Hebrews 12:3, “Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.”

Acts 20:24, “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”

2 Thessalonians 3:5, “May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.”

James 1:12, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”

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The Discipline of the Perseverance stretches us, matures us, perfects us, and completes us. No, it won’t be fun. No, it won’t be easy. However, rest assured that in Christ, all things are possible. You can walk by faith and not by sight. God can be made strong in your weakness. You can persevere. You can run your race well. And you will receive the eternal prize when you cross that finish line!

I encourage you to go through the Scriptures shared here (and in this chapter). They will be a lifeline in times of suffering. Then meet me here next week when we’ll talk about the Discipline of the church.

{Thoughts to Ponder}

Q1: How has the Spirit of God “perfected” you through certain trials or tests?

Q2: When have you seen a believer’s testimony of faith during a time of suffering have an impact on those around him or her?

Q3: What difficulties are you currently enduring?

Q4: When has a time of trouble given you a clearer view of God?

**Some discussion questions taken from Disciplines of a Godly Woman by Barbara Hughes. All quotes by Barbara Hughes unless otherwise noted. 

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© 2016 Darlene Collazo | {In Pursuit} My Quest

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