Vision of Paul: Perseverance

run-with-perseverance2When people think of life as a story of learning faith and acceptance of God’s vision, they will notice some themes that run through all their lives. A big one is struggle. All of us at some level will experience at least one major struggle in our lives, if not multiple. It’s one of the facts that can cause fear, because we do not like pain, heartbreak, or loss. If you’re in a community, this a great conversation starter. If you’re in honest community, you better grab the reins and strap yourself down for a bumpy ride, because we all have major stories of struggle. Some will make you angry, others sad, and still others will leave you speechless.

Although struggle is a part of our lives, it does not have to be THE major them of our lives. The reason for this is that there are two types of people, ones who let circumstances define them and others who find a way to define their circumstances. We all know the first person. They complain and want pity. They think there is no way out of a bad situation. But what the first person needs to hear is the story that the second person has discovered, a life of perseverance. These people take seriously the fact that the ones who define things hold the power. They believe that is true when experiencing hard moments in life. If you are struggling, know that there is a way through it and a way to transcend it. You can either define or be defined, influence or be influenced.

The Apostle Paul discovered how to influence in 2 Corinthians 11:23-31. He talks about all the ways he has struggle. My first reading of this passage made me wonder why Paul did not just quit and say that the movement of Christianity was useless. At the end he says something that is foundational to living faith with perseverance. “If I must boast, I would rather boast about the things that show how weak I am. God, the Father of our Lord Jesus, who is worthy of eternal praise, knows I am not lying.” Note that he embraces His weakness and finds what is truly stronger, that is the God who has rescued him. Vision is easy to dismiss in the middle of struggle when we lose our focus on who is the source of our vision. Maybe it’s our cultural training or natural human behavior, but we tend to take the easiest path possible.

Struggling to find God’s vision is worth the struggle. It may not seem like it, but if you look to what he has done in your past, you can see that He is carrying you, me, and us our entire lives. If you don’t see it in your past, I urge you to ask someone who has experienced it and read the Bible for people who experienced it too. Also, look to the future of hope that God has promised us in Christ. Keeping focus will keep us in perseverance and will make the current troubling times more bearable and more productive in giving us character in the likeness of Jesus. Paul found it. Many others in the history of this Faith have found it. Are you ready to find it?