Persevere — to persist in a state, enterprise, or undertaking in spite of counter-influences, opposition, or discouragement
Our church is currently going through a sermon series on the Book of Acts, and this Sunday we’ll be in chapter 14. One of the central figures in Acts is the Apostle Paul, and one character trait of Paul’s that jumps off the pages of Acts is his perseverance.
Talk about a guy who went though some trials because of his faith in Jesus! Later in his life, when Paul was writing to the church in Corinth defending is standing as an apostle, he recounted some of the hardships he had faced for Jesus sake
“24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.” — 2 Corinthians 11:24-28
What was Paul’s secret? Was he a superhuman Christian? Was he blessed with special faith that the rest of us “normal” folk don’t have? I don’t think so. Paul was able to undergo the amount of suffering he endured because he knew that this life is temporary and that spending his life on Jesus was worth any cost. Why? Because Jesus said that anyone who follows him (and following Jesus often means suffering for him) would spend eternity with him (Matthew 16:24-25; John 3:16). For Paul, that promise was enough to keep him going, come what may.
For Paul, Jesus was more than enough. He tells us this in Philippians 3:8 — “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ”
Are you discouraged? Friend, run to Jesus. Are you depressed? Run to Jesus. Are you broken and distraught or wondering if you can even go on? Run to Jesus. Jesus is enough for Paul, and Jesus is enough for you.
Brandon Herron is lead pastor at First Baptist Church in Sandpoint. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.