In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food. We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love. We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense. We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors. (NLT)
None of us is immune to bad times. The apostle Paul faithfully served God and look what he got! It is a Satan inspired lie that if troubles confront us we must have strayed from God. The road to green pastures can lead through some very dark valleys. Yet we persevere.
It seems there are a few dimensions to perseverance. The most primitive or basic is simply staying afloat. We are floundering in deep waters but we are not drowning despite it feeling that way. We cope, which doesn’t seem very praiseworthy but is yet something we need to do. Sometimes it is the only thing we can do. That is perseverance.
At other times we don’t so much flounder as swim for shore. We recognise our situation and are empowered to take steps to overcome it. The process may be wearying, doubts may arise as to whether we reach shore, but we press on regardless. That too is perseverance.
And then there are those blessed occasions when the threat passes, the troubles diminish or disappear, the pain lessens or goes away. We reach the safety of the shore…at least until next time. And that is also perseverance.
Perseverance is what Paul practised and what each of us needs to practise. At times it is far from glamorous. But we need to remember that staying afloat in the first place is the first and necessary step to final victory. No shame in floundering.