In those times of discouragement, when everything seems to be just one problem or barrier after another, when you seem to be working against the clock and losing time, you need persevering grace. When it seems like you might as well give up, that your hopes and dreams will never happen, you need persevering grace. When everyone around you is in a state of panic or confusion and the temptation to join them is strong, you need persevering grace.
Now, you will remember that we have said that grace is the wonderful, majestic, omnipotent Lord God reaching down to us in our hopeless state and fulfilling our needs. If we are called by Him to persevere, to keep doing His will no matter what, then we must call on Him for the ability to do that. There is nothing in us that wants to do His will in the first place and certainly nothing in us that will be able to keep going in the hard times. Any perseverance must come from Him.
I could call this “hang in there grace.” To keep going when you don’t want to, when it doesn’t seem like it’s working, when the opposition has gotten into your head—you need hang-in-there grace.
Before I go any further, I want to suggest a Scriptural opposite for perseverance. It seems that there is a tendency, even among the people of God, to faint in the midst of adversity. Since adversity increases as we become more and more separated from the world and its ways, the temptation to faint, to fall apart or fall down on the job, increases as well.
I would suggest that faintheartedness is the opposite of perseverance. To faint means to fall down or fall back, to stop doing what you were doing. Those who belong to the Lord must not faint in serving Him or in doing right.
There are some interesting facts about faintheartedness in the Scriptures. First, we are told that lack of perseverance, or fainting, is a sign of weak faith.
Proverbs 24:10 ( NKJV ) If you faint in the day of adversity, Your strength is small.
We are not to “faint in the day of adversity” because our faith should be strong enough to keep us going.
Over the next year we may see this kind of problem in our own country as we prepare for the future. We may see many Christians going off the deep end in fear because of rumors or perceived dangers. We will see more compromise in doctrine, more desire to make the gospel acceptable in the eyes of the world. The more people worry about the future, the more willing they are to compromise today.
Wars and rumors of wars. Troubles and rumors of troubles. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring, do we? Will there be an economic collapse? Will there be wars? Will there be persecution for the people of God? Who knows? If you watch the news, you know that trouble is coming. The people of the news are always bringing us important alerts and warnings and stories of doom. Trouble from the Muslims, trouble from the liberals, trouble from the economy, trouble from the air and water. It never ends, does it?
What we do know is that faintheartedness is contagious. Panic spreads rapidly regardless of fact. Those who faint will likely take along others. I remember a story about a young people’s choir where one of the young ladies, overcome by the stress and the heat, fell off the stage in a faint. It wasn’t long before another fell and then another. Soon the choir had to stop their performance because so many of their number had fainted.
When the people of Israel prepared to enter the Promised Land the leaders knew that faintheartedness was contagious. That’s why this command was given:
Deuteronomy 20:8 ( NKJV ) “The officers shall speak further to the people, and say, ‘What man is there who is fearful and fainthearted? Let him go and return to his house, lest the heart of his brethren faint like his heart.’
In other words, you don’t even want to be around those who are fainthearted because they may well drag you down, especially if you are not prepared. It may not help to listen to the news all the time. It may not help to get together with friends and talk about how bad things are getting. It may just drag you further down.