James 1:12- Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
Definition of PERSEVERANCE: 1.) to persist in spite of counterinfluences, opposition, or discouragement 2) continuing in a state of grace to the end, leading to eternal salvation.
Perseverance is such an important part of our lives, not only in day to day activities, but in our daily walk with Christ. Situations and tough times will come our way, but James says that it’s all about standing the test. Earlier in James 1, he says that the tough times just build perseverance and that after we persevere, we will not lack anything.
Think of our life as a giant football game. There are the players who train for months just for the games that equate to about three hours per week. You have the coach who is in charge of making sure all the team is working out every day, coming to practice, etc. Both the team and the coach not only have to answer to their sports conference, but they hear about the details and results in their games from the media, fans, family, and other football teams. They spend time, energy, and emotion in order to have a successful stream of games to ensure a strong season. But, what is a football game without the crowd? These are the people that buy a ticket, take a few hours out of their day, and go sit down to watch the game. Out of these two groups of people, who do you think is feeling more pressure on game day? Pressure to “show up” on the field, making sure they have all the right plays in order to win? When the fans leave the stadium, thoughts of the game soon fade as they continue on with life and go back to their own business. But, the team and the coach have to assess their last game, good or bad, and make any necessary changes in order to make their next showing better. Their livelihood and future depends on these games. They experience the huge emotional rush of a win and other perks of being on the team. Furthermore, they also experience the crushing feeling of a loss, the weariness of the physical demands, and the sacrifices in other parts of their lives. They are physically and mentally committed 100%. Their heart never leaves the game.
As Christians, the **Apostle Paul wrote that we are constantly in a race of imitating Christ in our daily living. Our hearts are 100% committed to His love and grace at work in our lives. At times, it feels like everyone is watching, just waiting to see someone make a mistake (as we all do). But, on the other hand, there is always the feeling that we are to do something bigger and better than what we have done in the past. Either way, there is a level of perseverance that must be present for us to push through and be all we are called to be. It’s easy for the “fans” or the peers in our lives to sit back and watch, and even sometimes be critical towards how we are living as Christians. Don’t let that discourage you though! This is when perseverance comes into full swing! Onlookers that aren’t in this race may be critical and judgmental at times. Truth is, this is just a part of life. So, as James says, consider it pure joy whenever you face a trial or hardship. It just means that you are moving in the right direction of what God has for you. Remember that time won’t last forever. It’s just a season. Even when you are discouraged, persevere. Even when it seems that everything is going in the opposite direction of what God is leading you to do, persevere. After understanding perseverance, you will see that it is possible to get through any situation with God by your side, regardless of what others may say or negative feelings. You are never alone and "you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength." Philippians 4:13
**Hebrews 12:2-3 (Message Bible) "Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!"