Patience and perseverance

February 8th, 2019

When people talk about God’s promises, I wonder if they realize that some dreams are decades in the making.

Consider Joseph. He was just a kid when the Lord spoke to him about being a ruler. When he told his brothers about what God showed him, they thought he was crazy. The vision Joseph carried landed him in jail “until what the Lord said proved him true” (Psalm 105:19). 

What about Moses? He knew in his heart that he was called to set his fellow Hebrews free, but he lived as a shepherd in the land of Midian for forty years before leading His people out of Egypt.

Think about Hannah. Enduring the ridicule of her rival, Hannah petitioned God for a child. Then when her prayer was answered, she dedicated her son to the work of the Lord.

Similarly, Elizabeth was barren, but God heard her cries. She gave birth to John the Baptist, even in her old age.

These Biblical heroes and many others lived by faith, ”the reality of what we hope for, the proof of what we don’t see” (Hebrews 11:1).

But why did it take so long to see the promises of God fulfilled in their lives? 

I, myself, have lived with words the Lord spoke to me over two decades ago that I am still waiting to see come to pass. I remember when I was in my early twenties and shared the vision the Lord gave me for Love In A Big World with an older couple at church. They affirmed that I had heard from God and challenged me to work and wait as things developed. Despite my tears and protests, they reminded me over and over again that God is more concerned about my character than He is about my dream.

As James writes:

“My brothers and sisters, think of the various tests you encounter as occasions for joy. After all, you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. Let this endurance complete its work so that you may be fully mature, complete, and lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4).

Over time I have learned that my character has been forged in the waiting. Perseverance is sticking to it, not giving up. There are many visionaries and entrepreneurs, but few who have the wherewithal to crawl but not quit. In our instant-gratification society, it is easy to become frustrated when things don’t happen on our timeline. That is when we must rest in the arms of our good and loving Father.

I’ve also realized that my children are watching and learning by how I live. They know they must set goals and work hard because of my example. How much sweeter is the celebration of accomplishment when they have seen firsthand mom’s grit and grace through the process.

Here are some ways to encourage yourself and others to persevere:

  1. Run with champions. Spend time with others who are committed to fulfilling the purposes of God for their lives. Be real with each other about the struggle, and spur each other on with encouraging words and prayer.
  2. Take one day at a time. A dream is not realized overnight. Plan the work, and work the plan. 
  3. Cover every step in prayer. “Unless the Lord builds the house, we labor in vain…” Ask Jesus for wisdom, discernment, and favor. Listen to what He says and follow His lead.

On the days you feel discouraged, listen to this anthem and fight on!

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