The Courage to Persevere
Some time ago I read an article titled “What It Takes To Make A Strong Church.” The short answer to that inquiry is ... It takes strong Christians to make a strong church. It stated that the church is all about people and, as the people make spiritual progress so does the congregation. The author noted a list of (5) important things necessary to the making of a strong church of Christ claiming again that it's all about the people…people who have:
- A sense of dedication to the authority of God's word. (II Timothy 3:16-17) “All scripture is inspired by God...” and (I Peter 4:11) “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God.”
- A sense of dissatisfaction with the world (I John 2:15- 16). “Do not love the world nor the things of the world.”
- A sense of dedication to the work involved (Rom 12:3-6). “Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly.”
- A sense of love for the brethren (I John 4:7). “This is the love of God that we love one another.”
- A sense of determination to persevere… the topic I was assigned for this article.
What does it mean to you personally to have courage or to be courageous? Where does your courage come from? What is the source? Merriam- Webster's defines courage as the mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty; possessing the ability to do something that you know is difficult or dangerous.
“Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you” (Deut. 31:6). The NKJV says “Be strong and of good courage, fear not...”
“Then David said to his son Solomon, ‘Be strong and courageous, and act; do not fear nor be dismayed, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you nor forsake you’” (1 Chrn. 28:20).
“Be strong and courageous, do not fear or be dismayed because of the king of Assyria nor because of all the horde that is with him; for the one with us is greater than the one with him” (2 Chrn. 32:7).
Notice in the three passages cited above, the admonition to be of good courage is coupled with instruction to fear not or be not afraid. We make choices between right and wrong every day. Fear of opposition, rejection or failure will often arise when we take a stand for what is right. Courage is the key to setting fear aside and pressing on, no matter what the obstacle. Spiritual courage comes from a strong faith in God’s promise that He is with us and will not leave us or forsake us. Paul asks in Romans 8:31, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
What does it mean to persevere? Again, Merriam-Webster's defines persevere; to persist in a state, enterprise, or undertaking in spite of counter influences, opposition, or discouragement; to continue doing something or trying to do something even though it is difficult. I Corinthians 15:58 says it better, “Be ye therefore steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, inasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”
The idea of "always abounding in the work of the Lord" implies endurance, commitment or perseverance. “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Heb 12:1-2). “You will be hated by all because of My name, but the one who endures to the end, he will be saved” (Mark 13:13). “But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved” (Matt. 24:13).
Circling back to Dee's article, someone with a sense to persevere is steadfast even in the most difficult circumstances; he is not moved by what comes from the profession of his faith; he is constantly growing, ever progressing in the elongation of his hope in Jesus (I Peter 1:3-5). His determination to last regardless of the circumstances is a strong deterrent to the possible invasion of false notions and doctrines of men. He is willing and able- spiritually equipped-to ward off evil, while fighting temptations in his own life (Ephesians 6:10-18).
I was scheduled to have a visit with Dee & Norma on Tuesday, September 7th at 2:30 pm. I looked forward to chatting a bit about the wedding he officiated September 7th in 1984 for Rhonda and me. I wanted to share with him my intention to use one of his old writings as the inspiration for this article. On that same day at 12:04 p.m., Norma texted me and said Dee had a terrible night, that we'd have to postpone the visit for another day. That same week, Rhonda, Ben & Cam, and I all tested positive for covid and were still in quarantine on the day of his funeral. I miss brother Dee. One day we'll have that visit, Lord willing.