- Solid concrete
- Not strong enough
- Extremely heavy
- No way through
- Exceptionally thick
- Too difficult
I imagined these thoughts as I sat on a friend’s patio and noticed a plant that had sprouted through a crack in the concrete. Against all odds, the little green weed had persevered and conquered what many would consider impenetrable. I pondered, “How many times have I encountered difficult hindrances and obstacles and desired to surrender to defeat? When have I persevered like this little plant?”
Webster’s Dictionary defines perseverance as “the ability to persist in a state, enterprise, or undertaking in spite of opposition or discouragement." It reminded me of Romans 5:3b-5a:
"But we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us."
I love how it’s described as building blocks.
Once you’ve made it through the first three steps, you have established hope because you can look back and see what you’ve endured and conquered. Rarely do we consider that our strengthening moments or development of attributes begin with suffering. Difficulty causes us to press on, make it through. The trials build your character – defines who you are. One of the key words in the scripture is “know” – we can rejoice when circumstances are difficult because we “know” that we are surrounded by God’s presence, and placing our faith in Him allows us to persevere. It’s easy to trust in God when the road is smooth, but it’s the turbulence that stretches your belief muscles. It’s our tenacity that produces proven character. Another way to envision it is that we have been tested and approved. You test drive vehicles or try on clothes to prove their satisfactory. Our struggles drive a path to strength and endurance. Character is formed through a process.
James 1 tells us the same thing:
"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance."
It is in the midst of the storms that we cling to God, our life preserver. We experience His faithfulness and it develops us as we endure.
Imagine how good it felt for the little green fella to come bursting forth to dance amid the wind and sun. There had to have been moments when he doubted, wanted to give up, grew discouraged, or felt the pain was too great. But he now realizes he has the strength to confront or tackle anything.
I tucked this example away for another day, a time when I’m raging against insurmountable odds, as a reminder not to give up, but that my perseverance will produce results!