Perseverance. In elementary school, my teachers gave out monthly certificates to honor students who they felt represented certain characteristics. February was always “perseverance month,” because, although we were hardly more than halfway through the school year, summer was already on our minds. This was when learning became a little more strenuous and a lot less interesting.
In fourth grade, I received the perseverance certificate. I thought it was a huge achievement. But only now do I realized how naive I was to to think my nine-year-old self deserved such recognition, when my journey had only just begun.
Last Sunday, our church hosted a women’s dessert outreach. While sharing sweet treats in community was nice, it was more than just the pecan pie bars and lemon meringue bites that made Sunday afternoon special. I was humbled to listen to the stories of other women of faith, whom I crossed paths with every week but never knew more than a name.
As we went around the table sharing prayer requests, I was amazed by the scope of suffering and doubt that remained a common thread among us. Though we represented about three generations of believers, it became clear to me that our need for prayer, reassurance and affirmation doesn’t disappear with age. Our need to press on doesn’t get easier with time.
What made the older women different from us younger women wasn’t their age — it was their ability to keep the faith, to keep looking for answers, to persevere no matter what life threw in their way. These women who continue to fight the good fight (2 Timothy 4:7) are the ones truly deserving of a certificate like the one I received in fourth grade.
Despite the battles they continue to face, they have learned to maintain a peaceful spirit amid any situation, and as a result they have become some of the greatest containers for joy. They know that troubles will come, but they also know that God will never forsake them; and they have learned this over the course of many steadfast years.
Through numerous trials they have learned that staying the course isn’t just a option, it’s a way of life.
Perseverance is a lifelong undertaking. You don’t just wake up one day and automatically become a person of perseverance. It’s not a one-time endeavor, like I thought it was in the fourth grade. Instead, it should be a reoccurring theme — a developed character trait that helps us rise above suffering and the mundane aspects of life.
What does it mean to persevere? It means to keep pressing on. To keep believing. To focus on joy and hope. No matter what!
What are you persevering through right now? What has helped you to stand firm in the face of obstacles?