Practically in every area of our lives, there are times when perseverance is a must. Against that we have created and live in a society where ‘Instant’ is king, where to our annoyance the driver in front has taken three seconds to realise the lights have changed, where we stand impatiently waiting for the microwave to cook our meal in 1 minute 30 seconds, where we are a bit miffed that the goods we purchased are going to take 24 hours to be delivered, where waiting for something for weeks or even months is just not acceptable and the thought of couples being married for 50 months never mind 50 years is becoming, well, quite extraordinary!
The fascinating thing about the stories of men and women in history, and in the Bible, are that although we sometimes read about their God-given journey in a matter of hours and sometimes minutes, we are often reading of 10, 25, or 40 years of someone’ s life, never mind 120 years to build an ark.
Abraham waited 25 years for the promised son Isaac, Jacob 14 years for a promised wife, Moses 40 years looking after sheep, David waited 7 years at Hebron to become king, Jesus waited 30 years before His ministry started and then took 3 years on team training. The apostle Paul waiting 14 years before going back to Jerusalem. Some waited in faith, some just persevered. Some saw what had been promised but some did not, believing for better things in their eternal future. Hebrews 11.
The World Prayer Centre journey goes back to our Pray for Revival roots with leaders across Birmingham, during the 1980s and 90s and through the turn of the century, we prayed for spiritual awakening in the nation. Although we thank God for what He has done and is doing, still by His grace we persevere and pray for a manifest demonstration of His presence in villages, towns, and cities across the land. Still today, whilst we thank God for the many answers to prayer over the years, in faith we await the gold bars that will enable the vision for a world prayer centre to be built, having carried the vision in our hearts for 26 years.
There are many words to describe perseverance. Constancy, doggedness, persistence, to maintain effort in the face of difficulties and challenges. Saint Paul writing to the Christians in Rome who had become followers of Jesus in extremely difficult situations, said, “We also rejoice in our sufferings for we know that suffering produces perseverance and perseverance character and character, hope”. Romans 5:3. NIV.
All of us in our life journey has had the experience of giving up after a setback. Some of us left a game and missed our teams winning goal in the 94th minute. Stories are told in the gold rush era of men who sank everything into a mine, found gold, lost the seam, gave up, went home broke, only for others to drill on a little further in the same place and make millions. Jesus told a fantastic story of a boy who left home, broke his dad’ s heart, but his dad never gave up looking out for him. Because the dad persevered in looking, Jesus said that, “While the boy was a long way off his father saw him” and welcomed him home.
As I write these words we are watching the 75th celebration of the D-Day landings. So often we have heard from those amazing veterans, “We could not let our mates down, we could not give up.” Today, we thank them and thank God they maintained such heroic effort in the face of such a challenge. Let us never ever forget the cost of the freedom we enjoy today is because of their perseverance.
So, if your team is losing, don’ t read the score at half time. If you are digging for gold and hitting a rock, if your family situation is bleak. If you are struggling on your Christian journey, if you feel the valleys and mountains, the rough places and the twists in the roads are too much, don’ t bottle it, battle it and get help. Don’ t think your experience is unusual.
Going back into Bible history and up to today, people like you and me have had the choice to give up or, with strong faith and dogged determination, press on to all that God has for us to be and do. Today maybe in some very simple ways, pray to God. Remember He loves you, knows your life journey and every detail of it. With you, we ask Him today in the name of His Son Jesus with the power and strength of His Spirit to help us persevere and persist as God builds in us His likeness and character and amazing eternal hope.
So, remember, if at first, you don’ t succeed, try, try, try again.
Ian Cole – Founder of World Prayer Centre