One passage of Scripture begins by reminding us that we can rejoice, because we have been placed into Christ, a unique and favorable position. And we can rejoice as we anticipate God revealing his glory. And we can rejoice when we encounter trouble.
We do not rejoice because we encounter trouble; we rejoice because of what God will accomplish in us and through us. We will all experience trouble of one sort or another: sickness, unemployment, bad relationships, accidents. We will all need to deal with the fall out of trouble.
People deal with trouble in all sorts of ways. They flee – avoiding anything and anyone involved. They explode – attacking anything and anyone involved. The solution given in Scripture … persevere.
“Perseverance” is a patient pursuit of goals or objectives in spite of difficulty, obstacles or discouragement. It is important in life to put first things first. It sounds sort of unspiritual, but people need to know their priorities. Priorities are not unspiritual. The first priority is “put God first.” The Bible uses other language to express this, but the message comes down to this. Fleeing or exploding puts something else first.
We know from other parts of Scripture that perseverance is part of God’s nature. When we patiently persist in the face of a negative force or environment, we are expressing God’s nature. We are living out our original design. Perseverance is more than keeping one’s priorities. It is also demonstrating God’s nature.
Maintaining our priorities (putting God first) can have a number of practical results. There can be a temptation to avoid practices that are intended to build our relationship with the Father: worship, prayer, reading and meditating on Scripture, gathering with members of the family. There can be a temptation to postpone pursuing assignments that complete God’s mission.
If a person continues to pursue their relationship with the Father, to pursue God’s mission and the place in the mission in the face of trouble, they take steps in building habits and practices that flow from how the Father designed people. The word that is used to describe these habits and practices is “character.”
Character, especially in the face of trouble, demonstrates God’s character and God’s reality. It gives us confidence in God’s words – it works the way it says it does. So, we have a positive expectation of the future – God will continue to do and to work as he said he will. So, we will never be disappointed in him, or in our life with him.