By Patrick Hogan
Living for Jesus in our present world can become discouraging at times. Opposition, adversity, and suffering of different types cam discourage us and present the temptation to give up. Even the prevalence of evil in the world is enough to get us down. Several passages in the New Testament encourage Christians to persevere even when things do not seem to be going in the right direction.
Two such passages are found in the book of Hebrews. In both passages the writer is encouraging Christians to persevere and not give up because of discouraging circumstances, lest they miss the blessings Christ has promised. "For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise." (10:36) "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us" (12:1).
Galatians 6:9 encourages perseverance in these words: "And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart."
Sometimes valuable life lessons can be learned from strange events. The concept of perseverance being rewarded was illustrated this past weekend in something as mundane and non-spiritual as automobile racing. (I suppose a spiritual connection can be made by noting that the writer of Hebrews encouraged running with "endurance the race that is set before us.")
This past Sunday, in two different automobile races, in two different racing series, held in two different states, the final result was basically the same. In both events the outcome was decided in the last several hundred yards of racing. The drivers who looked as though they would finish a distant second actually won the races because of what happened to the leaders. In Indianapolis the leader crashed into the wall exiting the final turn, and slid across the finish line in second place in a badly damaged car. In Charlotte, the leader ran out of gas exiting the final turn and coasted to a seventh place finish. In both instances the eventual winner had not really been a factor in the race all day - that is, until the final moments. Each had driven steadily, conserving their vehicles and their fuel, persevering through adversity until the end. Their persistence paid off.
The prize for which we strive is more valuable than the monetary reward and the fame the two drivers above and the fame the two drivers above received for their perseverance. We are promised life in heaven forever with Jesus! When discouragement comes let us remember to focus on the prize and the One who wants us to be with Him forever. It can help us to persevere even in the face of tremendous adversity.
- Patrick Hogan serves as a minister and elder of the Shady Acres church of Christ, in Sikeston, MO. He may be contacted through the church's website at http://www.shadyacreschurch.com