It’s a chilly April morning, and Tucker and I galumph our way around the wooded path that circles the land behind our home. Along the path, a little beech tree stands alone, fully clothed in a grove of naked but budding alders. Every little breeze stirs a papery rustle as her brown leafy hands greet my passing. She knows what it is to hold on, and I wonder about the parable of her perseverance as I stare at the word, scrawled in spidery cursive across the top of a journal page: PERSEVERE.
Those who believingly follow Jesus Christ are familiar with anticipation, with the dogged perseverance of waiting, because we have read the words of Scripture about eternal rewards which come to those who endure.
So we endure – sometimes just because God has commanded us to do so.
Sometimes because we remember that Jesus has promised it will be worth it in the end.
Persevere with Rewards in Mind
The final book of the Bible, John’s Revelation, makes a promise of reward to each of the seven churches John addresses. To the faithful, God extends the promise of eternal life (2:7), resurrection (2:11), God’s provision (2:17), ruling with Jesus (2:26-28), citizenship in God’s kingdom (3:5), life in the presence of God (3:12), and shared authority with the victorious Christ (3:21).
Eternal rewards don’t capture our hearts as they should.Tweet
But there are times when eternal rewards don’t capture our hearts as they should. We grow weary, impatient. Short-sighted, we wonder if maybe a promotion at work, a nicer house with a better, more fashionable address, or the realization of some of our secret hopes and aspirations might not be a more appropriate reward for the kind of “suffering” that we’ve endured. Like the prodigal son, we want our “inheritance,” and we want it now.
God, however, has the long leisure of eternity in mind, and, while humans long for instant gratification, He tends to do many things very, very slowly. He sees the character development and deep refinement that will come through perseverance. He delights in a brand of righteousness that comes in the secret place, for His eyes only, that may go unnoticed, unheralded — and unrewarded as far as we can see with our temporal understanding of rewards.
Persevere in Community
Today, we persevere, but not alone. When John introduces himself at the outset of his final letter, he speaks of companionship and uses plural pronouns (1:9). When perseverance happens in community, we remind one another of future good that is to come. We hold each other to a biblical definition of “overcoming,” and endure the pressures of this life in company with those who are also learning the grace of saying “no” to evil and “yes” to Christ.
When perseverance happens in community, we remind one another of future good that is to come.Tweet
The Apostle Paul cherished a clear-eyed view of his eternal reward that carried him through every trial he faced:
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. . . But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.”
(Romans 8:18, 25)
Lord, teach us to look forward in hope to what you have promised; to have our hearts firmly planted in your kingdom, for that is where we will find our true and most lasting treasure.
Perseverance is so much more than simply hanging on. When the newness wears off, when you don’t feel like it, when everything just feels too hard, press on. Ask God for his strength and energy to keep going with every worthwhile endeavor.
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