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IMG_0314Perseverance is a word we don’t always like, because if you are to persevere, you must need to push through some kind of difficulty, opposition, or delay.  Perseverance often makes me think of endurance, which gives me a picture of a long distance runner.

I have never enjoyed running. When I was in high school, I was on the track team for all the wrong reasons.  I liked to do the jumps or maybe the short races or relays, but I certainly wasn’t committed enough to be the one who ran the long distance races.

Those races required too much perseverance. The ability to push through the pain and fatigue when you feel like your lungs are on fire and your legs cannot move another step.  I like the way the Message Bible describes perseverance in a long distance race.  Read below:

12 Do you see what this means — all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running — and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. 2 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. 3 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! Hebrews 12:1-3 The Message Bible

This describes our spiritual race during times that require perseverance. We are reminded to keep our eyes on Jesus since He demonstrated for us not only how to start a race, but how to finish it!

In the middle of the race, there are times you feel all alone and you may be tempted to question if you are in the right race. Perseverance is needed when God SEEMS to be absent and SEEMS to be silent!  Scripture tells us that He will never leave us or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5)  While I know that to be true, there have been times I have found myself asking, “Where are you?”

A very familiar scripture found in Galatians 6:9 AMP reads:

“And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint.”

Let me tell you two of the greatest enemies in certain stages of the race….doubt and disappointment.

When you are in a season where you have been believing and standing in faith for a long time, and your answer has not yet manifested, it is tempting to begin to question if you really heard from God, or if this commitment to the race is really worth it.

In some situations, the risk of disappointment is so great that people give into hopelessness instead of standing in faith and staying in the race. In these times, you must contend and persevere!

David shows a great example of perseverance when he was running for his life. An interesting part of this story is found in 1 Samuel 21: 1-9.  Let me summarize it for you.

David and a few men who ran with him left with nothing but the clothes on their backs as they ran for their lives when Saul decided to kill him. David went to the temple, and found the priest and asks if there is anything to eat.  The only thing that was there to eat was the Bread of Presence, and the priest gave it to them for nourishment.  Then David asked the priest if there was a weapon, because he left without one.  Look at the priest’s response in verse 9:

“Then the priest said, “The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you killed in the valley of Elah, behold, it is wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod; if you would take it for yourself, take it. For there is no other except it here.” And David said, “There is none like it; give it to me.” 1 Samuel 21:9 NASU

David was certainly not a perfect man. In fact, he wasn’t totally honest with the priest in this very story.  However, David was a chosen man with a mighty destiny, and he needed to stay in the race and finish!

David is persevering, running for his life, with only the clothes on his back, and he chooses to run to the temple. He is nourished by the bread of presence, which is exactly what we can do when we keep our eye on the prize and focus on our relationship with God.  Our relationship and time spent with God will provide us with the nourishment needed to stay in the race.

In this place of God’s presence, David was reminded of his greatest victory when he defeated Goliath. Often one of the greatest forms of encouragement during the difficult leg of the race is to remember the past victories…remember how it felt to cross the finish line during your last race.

David was also now armed with a sword that originally belonged to a giant.   I suppose that it was huge…..but now in this place of perseverance, in the presence, David is equipped with a weapon that should be too heavy for him.  I feel it was his commitment to the race….first in relationship, his contending in warfare, and his perseverance that brought him to this place where there was a new anointing, a new empowerment for him.  He developed character and stamina that would take him through this difficult season and eventually become the king.

I want to encourage you today to persevere! If you are in a difficult leg of your spiritual race, stay close to God so you will be nourished, keep your eye on the prize, and as you stay committed you will be empowered to finish strong.