Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Perceiving Perseverance as Positive

“Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:4).

My initial response to the word perseverance is usually not a positive one.  Yes, I know it’s an important character quality and we are called to persevere as Christians, but part of me wants to groan and sigh when I hear the word.
One definition of perseverance surprised me because it had a positive connotation.  It was defined as cheerful or hopeful endurance.  I can’t say that many of my experiences with perseverance have been cheerful, but then I thought about the mindset I have had during those times – I wasn’t seeing it as something positive.
James connects perseverance with maturity, completion, blessing, and rewards. What Christian doesn’t want to reach those goals?  God is continually using everything in this life – pleasant as well as painful – to conform us to His image, so that we can attain those goals and be prepared for eternity with Him.
Perseverance is also defined in conjunction with endurance to win in the end.  We certainly want to win the crown of life that God has for us in heaven.  Hope and faith are positive concepts associated with perseverance as well, both of which we possess as believers in Christ.  And the more faith and hope we have, the stronger they become.
Viewing perseverance as something positive would help me handle my trials differently.  Instead of dreading them and feeling that I can’t or don’t even want to endure, I can rejoice that I am growing in maturity, knowing that each new trial brings me closer to perfection and eternity.
Life is hard.  Pain and problems are hard.  But God’s perspective of my trials is quite different from mine, and in His kingdom perseverance is positive and brings blessings. Viewing perseverance as positive may not ease my pain, but it can encourage me to keep going.  I want to win, and the sooner I mature the better.
Prayer:  Heavenly Father, please change my view of perseverance so that I see my trials as positive opportunities to grow and mature.  I praise You that no matter how weak I feel, I know that Your Spirit within me will give me the power to endure and win.  Amen.

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