Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
“I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
~ Michael Jordan
Success in any endeavor requires perseverance. Living in faith is no different. We must not dwell on what is behind us, but rather strive for what God has laid out ahead of us. We are called and equipped to press on to win the prize that is before us, but we have to put in the hard work to get there. Here are 7 ways to sustain the fire of perseverance in you as you run your race.
#1 Don’t Despair
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.
It’s so easy to get discouraged and feel defeated when life gets hard. James reminds us to consider the joy in the midst of the struggle. When our faith is tested and stretched and challenged, our perseverance muscles are developed. The result is a faith that is mature and complete, not lacking anything.
#2 Don’t Quit
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Philippians 1:6, ESV
Only God can supply what is lacking and He knows just how to do it. He knows exactly what difficulties will stretch and strengthen our faith. Have patience and let Him finish the good work He started in you. He’s not done with you yet! God will never quit on you. Don’t you quit on Him. He will see you through all the way to the very end.
#3 Don’t Lose Heart
Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
2 Cor 4:16-18
Life can be totally falling apart on the outside, but the spirit inside us is renewed daily by God’s grace. His mercies are new every morning (Lam 3:22-24). His spirit in us is greater than anything in the world around us (1 John 4:4). Take heart! He has already overcome all that (John 16:33). Our afflictions are light and transient compared to Eternity. Focus on the unseen eternal rather than the visible temporal.
#4 Don’t Give Up
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
It’s so tempting sometimes to give up because we feel like our efforts are unnoticed and unappreciated. It’s easy to wonder if we can really make a difference at all. God assures us that our work is not in vain (1 Cor 15:58). A harvest is coming, but it will be on His time table—not ours. Don’t quit too soon. You will see the fruit. Don’t give up on yourself or on the people you are trying to serve and help.
#5 Run to Win
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.
1 Corinthians 9:24-25
Run like a champion because that’s who God says you are. Don’t get distracted by unimportant things. Run with those who are going the direction you want to go and will help you set a good pace. Look at all the hard work and determination Olympic champions put into their sport. They do all that to get a medal that will not last. The work we do with Jesus has Eternal rewards. Live like you believe that’s true.
#6 Get Back Up
For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again.
You will fall. You can’t escape failure. It is what you do next that makes the difference. Don’t stay down! Get back up and rise again, and again, and again… You may go down, but you’re not out unless you choose to quit. The only way you fail is if you don’t get back up again.
“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing.”
~ Abraham Lincoln
The key to living undefeated is not to avoid falling, but to get back up after you do fall. Abraham Lincoln is one of the most loved and celebrated presidents of America. His leadership held our country together at a very fragile and heartbreaking time. Consider a few of his failures.
“Failing and failure are not synonymous. Failing means you did not achieve what you were trying to achieve, whereas failure means giving up. Fail a lot, but never be a failure.”
~ Jason Towne
#7 Try Again
Simon said, “Master, we’ve been fishing hard all night and haven’t caught even a minnow. But if you say so, I’ll let out the nets.” It was no sooner said than done—a huge haul of fish, straining the nets past capacity. They waved to their partners in the other boat to come help them. They filled both boats, nearly swamping them with the catch.
Luke 5:5-7, The Message
Simon was tired and discouraged. He’d worked hard all night and had nothing to show for it. Jesus asked him to try one more time. Simon didn’t do it for himself or because he thought he would catch anything. He simply obeyed. “But if you say so…” Is Jesus calling you to try once more? You may see only more failure, but He can see beyond your defeat to the victory He has prepared for you.
“I have not failed 10,000 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 10,000 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.”
~ Thomas Edison
Consider the failures of these famous people. What if they had refused to try again. Where would we be if they had given up? The world needs you to get back up and try again.
- Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times and hit 714 home runs.
- Walt Disney was fired from his newspaper job for “not being creative enough”.
- Oprah Winfrey’s first boss claimed she was too emotional for TV.
- Vincent Van Gogh only sold a single painting during his lifetime.
- Albert Einstein was expelled from school for being too rebellious.
- Steven Spielberg got rejected from the University of Southern California three times because of his poor grades.
“Overcomer” by Mandissa was my go-to song during my husband’s 6-month deployment. There was a lot I had to overcome as a “single mom” of 8 and a commander’s wife of a deployed squadron. Mandissa helped me remember that God has created me and strengthens me to be an overcomer. You are an overcomer too. Don’t believe the lie that you aren’t.
“Overcomer” by Mandissa
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