Animals are one of the greatest examples of determination or perseverance. I had a couple of hogs we needed to castrate but I waited a bit long. The pigs were a little less than 100 pounds and were a complete handful. I called a friend to help me. He and I ended up getting slammed all over my barn knocking things off the walls and everything else. Those little critters had determination.
It reminds me of my grandfather’s bull when it was time to take him to sale. Grandpa tried loading him the first time and he busted down the corral, and then swam the irrigation ditch to get back to the other cows. The next time he loaded him after the alley way was repaired the bull decided to turn around. The problem was he was too big to get turned around. This didn’t stop him one bit. Instead he reared around until he bent the trailer and faced the other way. Talk about determination. That bull did what he wanted to do. No matter what was brought his way he persevered.
In Judges Chapter 6, Gideon later known as Jerubbaal was subject of extreme poverty and frustration. The easterners routinely ransacked Israel’s fields and so forth taking their animals, food and destroying their crops by trampling them. Then an angel appeared to Gideon telling him God was with him. I can totally understand his frustration when he asked if God was with them, why all of the trouble? Gideon was so frustrated he said God had nothing to do with them and turned them over to Midian.
God told him he could Israel. Gideon explained he was the weakest clan in Israel. God told him He would be with him. Gideon was so skeptical based on his past wounds he asked God to give him a sign. We all have been so shattered we are unsure if God is speaking. I totally understand the skepticism. Sometimes it’s hard to believe God has ordained us to endure such hardships and to think it was in our best interest.
He prepared an offering and fire consumed it. This freaked Gideon out a bit partly because he realized he had been so frank with an angel of the Lord and partly to realize the call that was just placed on his life. Gideon was then obedient and chopped down the idols of Baal. He recruited a few men to help him and they worked at night. Though this was probably partly due to fear, it was a clear path God was directing.
The next step was for Gideon when the easterners camped in the Valley of Jezreel. Gideon again was unsure and gave God another little test. He then placed wool on the threshing floor and said if dew was only on the wool then it was clear Gideon was to save Israel. It’s easy to look at Gideon knowing the story is in the bible and think of course Gideon was called by God. How about our own lives? Is it as clear to us in our own lives?
Though God gave Gideon one sign, was this the only sign he was to run with? Gideon valued his life and based on past scarring he really wasn’t sure he could use his little group of men to overtake the bullies who had been dominating their lives for years. It think it was only natural to want to double check. Every one of us has prayed for God to give us some sign, and then ask for another just to be sure.
We start on the path God has called us to and often times we discover so much hardship and confrontation we begin to question whether or not God really did direct our path and whether or not God will give us favor through the situation. It’s very trying to question whether or not you are going in the right direction. Gideon was in this very turmoil. To be sure he told God he totally understood the fleece, but thought it could be circumstantial so he asked God for the reverse. He wanted the ground to be wet from the dew and nothing on the fleece.
The next day Gideon discovered the fleece just as he asked. Gideon ended up with such a following he had to repeatedly reduce the army in order to give God the glory. This was a huge triumph of perseverance. Gideon like ourselves was very uncertain at points, but once he knew, he pressed in not giving up until he was able to show victory.
Hannah is another example of a faithful but grieving woman. In 1 Samuel, chapter 1 Hannah was incredibly broken due to her being unable to bear a child. Anyone who knows someone who has been unable to have a child can’t imagine the pain and frustration one goes through. Look at your own life and imagine something you so desperately would like and yet you wait in angst with no result. To make the situation worse, imagine others making fun of your situation and cruelly exposing your wound repeatedly.
Imagine it getting worse, Hannah went into the church and began silently praying. She was pouring her heart out to God begging him to give her a child and she promised to dedicate the child to God for life. The priest Eli saw her sitting there sobbing and whispering. He immediately condemned her accusing her of being drunk. The church is the best at killing their wounded instead of treating them. This is just another example of such. Here Hannah was begging God to fill a void and a place of such severe pain in her life she was literally pleading with him.
Regardless of her pleading, she is broken even further in the place where she should feel to be safe. The church should be her place of safety, nourishment, blessing and inspiration. In that moment instead she received further condemnation. She explained to Eli she was pleading with God for a request. Notice she didn’t tell him her request. I think this was because it was such a painful place she feared further exposure and condemnation. Instead she plead with the pastor telling him she was a good person and not a drunk.
After satisfactorily convincing Eli that she wasn’t drunk and she was a good person, he responded by telling her to go and God would grant her request. Within the year Hannah conceived and gave birth to Samuel. She didn’t stop, she instead she nursed him until he was weaned. Once he was weaned she brought Samuel to Eli and presented the child to him. Basically she said, remember me, I was the one here asking God for this child and here he is. She then presented him to Eli and they both rejoiced. I can’t help but notice that she persevered, but God also allowed her to have some redemption by presenting the child to the very person who condemned her.
Perseverance is steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success. We had a guy who did not want to go to jail. We placed him in the back of the patrol car and he began tearing around. He was kicking to door so hard it began to bend the frame out. The officer was distracted with all of the events and forgot to put his seat belt on before heading to jail. I had the officer stop on the side of the road and I met him at the back of the car. I opened the door and told the prisoner in no uncertain terms he was going to jail and he was going to wear his seatbelt. He voluntarily allowed me to put his seatbelt on.
I didn’t come to negotiate. I was walked to that car in the middle of traffic for a specific purpose. Perseverance requires total commitment. There has been a story told about a man walking along the beach where thousands of starfish had been washed ashore. This man began throwing starfish back into the water. A person observed this and asked why he was doing this as it didn’t make a difference. The man throwing the starfish said it did to that one.
Perseverance requires commitment. Hannah was totally committed. Gideon was a little slower but as God revealed himself he too became totally committed. I was taught in Law enforcement total commitment to press and stop a threat, which is perseverance. So how do we handle commitment in situations like Gideon? What about problems at work, problems in the home, or the loss of a loved one? How do we keep going in spite of setback after setback? My goats caught pinkeye which is highly contagious in spite of trying to keep the dairy going how do I handle it?
We all struggle from time to time with a lack of trust and wonder if God will come through? We question direction just like Gideon. Dare I mention financial problems and setbacks, vehicles, house and medical bills? God isn’t fair, but he is just and therefore we must trust Him. Some of this trust comes from understanding promises written in the word. Psalm 119:11 talks about hiding God’s word in our hearts so we won’t sin against him. Ponder the following scriptures and let the Lord reveal promise in your purpose:
Hide these words in your heart. Dwell on them and hang them up. As you continue to meditate on God’s word you will discover the strength to persevere. You don’t come crawling to Christ’s feet begging for a little help. Instead God commands us in Hebrews chapter 4:1 to come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. You must march before God boldly professing your need and by his unfailing supernatural covering you will persevere. Say to yourself I will persevere!
Philip Lukens is the senior pastor of the Carr Community Church. To receive updates please enter your e-mail address below and click subscribe.
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