The Gift of Perseverance
Though he would later be acclaimed as one of the greatest inventors of history, Thomas Edison’s school career lasted three months. The teacher believed he was incapable of learning anything and sent him home. Edison’s mother taught him, and he was on his way to a lifetime of overcoming what seemed to be insurmountable obstacles. Among his most famous inventions were the commercial incandescent light bulb, the phonograph, and the fluoroscope. Most of his inventions required months, if not years, of dedication to overcoming obstacles before seeing any results.
In a 1921 interview, Edison described his persistence this way: “After we had conducted thousands of experiments on a certain project without solving the problem, one of my associates, after we had conducted the crowning experiment and it had proved a failure, expressed discouragement and disgust over our having failed to find out anything. I cheerily assured him that we had learned something. For we had learned for a certainty that the thing couldn’t be done that way, and that we would have to try some other way.”
I write a lot about hanging in because I believe, for most of us, that is the way life unfolds. We need perseverance and steadfastness as we run the race day by day. It is interesting that the earliest writer, James, opens up his letter to the early Jewish Christians “scatted among the nations” by saying this… “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do” (James 1:2-8 (NIV)).
He is saying, in short, “hang in!!!” Interesting that the twelve tribes were “scattered among the nations” most likely because of problems, even persecution. James is saying to approach difficult trials by resting in Christ, knowing that He is with us and that the Lord, through perseverance, will help us grow and mature in our faith. I believe, when he mentions wisdom, he is telling his readers to hang on as it is not something that comes overnight. That is why he calls them “not to doubt” but remain steadfast and in the process. God will bring wisdom. The continuing cry is to hang on, don’t give up, keep focused on Jesus and take it one day at a time. Trust Him. It is not easy, at times. That is why James is reminding them!
We have to remember, like Edison, that it is the long haul that produces results. For the Christian, especially when we think in light of eternity, it is the character that is developed, often times in trials, that we will take into heaven. For me, most of the things in life that I value have not come easy or without a process. They haven’t just dropped from the sky or happened overnight. I have had to “spend time in the weight room” so to speak first.
From my pen to your heart – may God richly bless you – Love Pastor Ralph