If you haven’t read the previous four devotionals, I encourage you to go back and read them. Today’s devotional is about perseverance, particularly as it relates to spiritual warfare. I don’t know about you, but living a life devoted to Jesus is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I can easily get off track, frustrated or weary. So perseverance has become an important aspect of my faith especially when faced with a spiritual battle.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines perseverance as “the continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition”.
Has your faith in Christ ever caused you difficulties or suffering? Do you ever fail in your relationship with God? Do you feel opposition in this culture because of your belief in Jesus? I suspect every Believer would answer yes to these questions.
I confess that I have felt all of the above. I’ve even experienced all of them at the same time. I don’t know where you are in your faith journey, but when you experience this kind of spiritual pressure, it is a pivotal point in your Christian life. You can either crumble under the pressure and walk away from following Jesus or you can choose to persevere; to keep going despite how difficult it may be.
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-9
Whenever I read that verse I immediately think about how I don’t have the right to complain about being persecuted or abandoned. I live in a comfortable place. I’ve never been afraid for my life simply because of my faith in Jesus. But then I’m reminded that each of us has a different journey of faith. We each suffer for Christ, some a lot more than others. The apostle Paul says that “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,” 2 Timothy [3:12]
I don’t know what your faith journey looks like. Have you suffered on some level because of your faith? I bet the answer to that question is yes. If you are feeling weighed down and worn out, please know you’re not alone. Just yesterday I prayed and told Jesus I just can’t fight this battle of fear, anxiety, and grief anymore. I felt guilty for feeling that way, because again, I live in such a comfortable place and my life is good. I thought of all the missionaries who are putting their lives at risk and I’m feeling overwhelmed with my easy life.
But then it came to me that the reason I feel weary is because I constantly fight against my flesh. I try hard not to give in to temptation. I fight hard to stay true to the Word of God. I fight hard to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. I often feel the crushing weight of grief over the loss of my loved ones. Everyday I battle my propensity to be worried and anxious. Then there’s the weight of failing at all these things (when I forget to put on the Armor of God). When I fail, which I often do, I get discouraged. And as a human, I eventually become weary, as all humans do.
While I’m not being stoned or chained up in prison as the Apostle Paul was (praise God!), my small spiritual battles are still very real and valid. And so are yours. These daily sufferings are used by God to produce in us a godliness that the world and our flesh cannot give us.
“We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope and hope does not put us to shame…” Romans 5:3-5
My prayer for you today is when you feel the crushing weight of suffering, failure, or persecution that you would not give up, but that you would persevere in your faith. I pray for the Holy Spirit to refine you through your sufferings and produce in you a character that is life changing.