Perseverance – The Loneliest, Most Underestimated Virtue

Perseverance.

Such a lonely, uncelebrated virtue.

And yet, like an unassuming seed that falls to the ground with no witness to its burial, perseverance does its work deep within our souls and then suddenly bursts forth from the earth of our lives with the power of life to break through death and produce beautiful, rich, nourishing fruit.

Jesus persevered.

The writer of Hebrews says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3 ESV

Fix your eyes on Jesus.

He left everything. And His everything is nothing we can even imagine. The everything of Heaven. The everything of one-ness with the Father. The everything of being fully God.

He left it all to be born one of us. To a poor family. Hunted by evil forces at His birth. Rejected by those He created. Unrecognized as the author and perfecter of the faith story He came to fulfill. What He endured for us is unimaginable still.

All the weight of all the sin of all the world was on His shoulders on the cross. Think of the evil that ravages the world in our times. He took on the weight of every headline and every crime or sinful deed hidden in darkness, and He paid the price for all that.

But after He tasted death, He defeated it and rose to everlasting life. And He did not keep this life to Himself but offers it to us. We can join Him in this life.

And when we do, we too, will be called to persevere.

This story of perseverance is the thread of the gospel story God tells through my life. I know this and yet, I still sigh when another trial appears, another challenge, another hurdle to clear.

But God’s faithfulness is the greater story He breaths into my soul and He is ever present, ever true, ever steadfast.

I sometimes pull, gasping, to the side of the narrow road and wonder how I will return to the journey. Having taken on this blog in 2008, I cannot hide from you, my friends, the consequence of these times. I cannot pretend to always rise above every trial. I cannot falsely claim to sail on wings of faith seamlessly through every challenge.

You see the stumbles in my writing – or my lack of it.

The war in Ukraine. The division in our country. The quarreling in the church. And upheaval in my own life (I am newly unemployed after 10 years in my job) nearly silenced me in these past weeks.

I tried to write.

When words failed me, I pressed into God in prayer. There is so much to learn about praying – more than asking for things, more than pleas for strength – remembering who God is and all that is ours through Jesus and praying God’s kingdom come, His will be done, and deliverance from evil in our times. I believe with all my heart that Ukraine has prevailed this far through the prayers of the saints and the perseverance of the people.

Perseverance. There it is again.

So, in these past weeks, I’ve spent my words on my knees and had none left over to share.

Please forgive me. It has been a time of remembering that God doesn’t reject my humanity or my frailty or my limits. His love never fails but I do.

And yet, He calls us to persevere.

Something in us rails against this virtue because it doesn’t shine.

Perseverance is permeated with sweat, scraped knees, frantic tears, bloody noses, bruised egos, battered hearts, and weariness that weighs more than we can bear.

Perseverance means getting up off the mat only to be knocked down again, and again, and again, but always rising with strength poured into us by God, remembering He, too, felt these blows.

To persevere is to practice a faith that worships while sirens warn that bombs may fall. To persevere is to practice faith that prays and believes God’s Word even when the world goes mad. To persevere is to fail, to ask forgiveness, and to start again.

Perseverance doesn’t shine but its beauty is undeniable. Look at Ukraine and the church there and the story of faith it speaks to the world.

And so, God has renewed my heart, too, to persevere in writing. Please forgive my absence and the shakiness of my prose. You, dear friends, are so precious to me but, more, you are precious to Jesus and so we are one.

Thank you for bearing with me. Pray for me as I pray for you for truly, we know in these times more than ever than we are just trying to keep our eyes on Jesus, our feet on the narrow path, and our hearts aimed toward home.

“Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,  not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:19-25 ESV

Thank you, again, for reading what I write. I offer it as all I have to offer in this great battle to be light in dark times. I was gone for a time, but I write again. Thank you for being here still.

**A word of good news: Colorful Connections: 12 Questions about Race that Open Healthy Conversations, a book I co-wrote with Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith, is available now for pre-order on Amazon (and at Kregel, Barnes and Noble, Christianbook.com, Target, and other places where books are sold).   


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25 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Carla FEMAT says:

    Lori,
    I pray that you will continue to write this blog! I’m not sure what you mean by being unemployed, but God does and He will provide. You are a constance in my life…I know you will always have some truth for me. Your writing is bold and beautiful like your faith. You inspire me to perseve. Thank you!

  2. Gerald Crawford says:

    I would rather have an inspirational message once a month or even two or three than even a “good” message to fill a time slot.

  3. Marcheta says:

    Your writing inspires me so much and says what I feel and not able to put into words. Thanks. Blessings

  4. Maureen says:

    Can’t wait to read this soon-to-be released book.
    And your words are always perfectly timed by the One who speaks through you… making things beautiful in His time. You encourage me and so many—both in your words and in your silence, as anyone who knows you knows that your quieter times are not signs of absence but indication of your pressing in to the Source from Whom all blessings flow. Praying for you.

  5. Jan Clough says:

    Dear Lori,

    I am so so thankful when l see your emails because l know that your words are salt and light and of the greatest encouragement to me. I echo a previous comment that it doesn’t matter how often you write because when your words come they come with great sincerity and depth of heart and all the more worth the wait.
    Perhaps this is a lesson not to take you for granted Lori, a gentle to reminder to us all who wait patiently for your encouraging words, that there are times when you need our encouragement and prayers so much more.

    May you know The Lords presence and provision Amen!

  6. Paul Taylor says:

    I am at a time in my life where I really needed to read this. My perseverance just got a lift. Thank you.

  7. Mark & Karen says:

    Truly one of the best things you’ve ever written, Lori . . . and you’ve written many excellent things, by God’s Grace! Love, Mark & Karen

  8. Cathy Richmond says:

    Praying for you in this difficult time. Big hug!

  9. Lisa says:

    What a gift to see a new post from you Lori. It reminds me of pre-internet times when I’d receive a letter from a loved one. I find myself rereading your words, your writing has such depth. Praying for encouragement to go along with your quest for perseverance. Thank you for your words, looking forward to the next time.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for sharing Lori – I will pray for you. I am with you in this struggle as I was laid off in 2018 and haven’t found work since. My husband was laid off in 2020, and we are coming to the end of our savings with no discernible direction from on high.

    We will make it to the throne room and sit at His feet.

    Keep the faith.

  11. Sherry Carter says:

    Your words always encourage and challenge me, Lori. As others have said, an occasional message from God, written through you, is better than daily superficial words. Sometimes, I hurry to open your posts because I know you will fill my heart. Other days, I hesitate because I sense that God will use you to give me a good old talking-to. Either way, I’m always blessed.

    FYI, I share your posts all the time. You have no idea the powerful reach God has through you!

  12. Sherry, you’ve blessed me dearly. Thank you!

  13. D Campbell says:

    Always look forward to you sharing. Will pray for you.

  14. Jan Christiansen says:

    And once again, you have inspired me, Lori. Not only to persevere in my writing, but in prayer, in standing firm when life doesn’t make sense. Please keep writing. You inspire so many with the word God gives you. Each word He prompts is like a dandelion seed, carried on the breath of the Holy Spirit to those for whom prompted you to write. I will be praying for you.

  15. Colice says:

    Thanks so much Lori about the encouraging words about the virtue of perseverance.