Goodbye, 2014 and Hello, 2015!

For this rare fifth Monday, I’m sharing one of my most-viewed posts of the last six months. It’s timely as we head into the 2015. Thank you for being part of this blog, and Happy New Year!

Confession: I hate running. Okay, “hate” is a strong word. I severely dislike running. If you read this blog regularly, you may remember that I do run. I just don’t like it. The strain, the boredom, the nasty sweating, the out-of-breathness. No, thanks.

It’s the having run that’s the good stuff. Sticking with it and crossing the finish line. …Perseverance, in the rearview mirror.

photo: U.S. Navy

What does the concept of perseverance mean to you? For me, it conjures a picture of pressing on in the face of opposition or resistance.  Like someone trudging forward through a howling blizzard or a ship weathering a fierce hurricane.

But why does it matter? So what if we hang in there, not just in tangible things like exercise, but during life’s difficulties? Wouldn’t it be easier just to throw in the towel sometimes? To give in to discouragement?

I’ve wrestled with this while going through long-term challenges. Prayer, digging into the Bible, and being around godly people have been lifesavers. And through this God reminds me of good reasons for sticking it out.

1. Persevering develops our trust muscles. Just like running strengthens my fledgling muscles, there’s nothing like hard times to grow our faith and trust in God. Do you feel like life just doesn’t make sense in certain situations? And where is God’s direction, His voice evaporating the fog of mystery surrounding these circumstances?

Sometimes it’s just not going to make sense, as much as we can’t stand that reality. Sometimes we must choose to trust and simply be with God–abiding in Him–and follow Him through the storm of confusion. And He won’t let us down.  Psalm 32:8 (NIV) promises the teachable person this: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.”

2. Persevering reveals God’s strength in us. Does your own strength ever surprise you? Maybe you hike a steep hill or survive an unbelievably hectic season of life. You look back, amazed, and think, “Wow. I didn’t know I could do that.” Here’s a secret I’ll bet you know already: It’s not our strength, but God’s in us. If Jesus is your savior, then He empowers you to do everything He has planned.

But here’s the interesting (yet groan-worthy) part–often it’s the hard times that hold up a mirror to reflect God’s strength inside of us. In the middle of it weariness threatens to capsize us. Then we stagger onto the shores of the other side. Catching our breath, we turn around and see what God brought us through. And He supplies strength to help us not only now, but in future challenges. We carry that power as we march ahead.

3. Persevering gives hope.  This week I talked with an older woman who is precious to me. She’s had a rough year. Lots of change, lots of loss. It’s healthy for her to acknowledge her grief, and she doesn’t sweep it under the rug. But she’s practicing perseverance by counting her blessings. “I have a warm place to live, I’m fed, I have my family.” She added with emphasis, “And I have have God’s love. What more could I ask for?”

What a refreshing perspective! Her attitude and perseverance give me hope and challenges my own. The “cloud of witnesses” in Hebrews 12:1-3 comes to mind. Countless Christians in heaven cheer us on. They pressed on, and they whisper, “You can, too. Keep going. Don’t stop. Persevere.”

I think I’ll keep those spiritual running shoes laced up.

What about you? What’s another benefit of persevering? On a different note, what’s something that you hate doing but like having done?