Life and Godliness: Perseverance

Kids riding water buffalo across a dirt field

Perseverance

Peter encourages us to “employ ever effort in exercising our faith to develop…perseverance (endurance, patience).

Webster’s defines perseverance as “persistence in any thing undertaken; continued pursuit of any business or enterprise begun; applied alike to good or evil. In theology, continuance in a state of grace to a state of glory.” Webster’s defines endurance as “a bearing or suffering; a continuing under pain or distress without resistance, or without sinking or yielding to the pressure; patience.”

Webster’s defines patience as “the suffering of afflictions, pain, toil, calamity, provocation or other evil, with a calm, unruffled temper; endurance without murmuring or fretfulness. Patience may spring from constitutional fortitude, from a kind of heroic pride, or from Christian submission to the divine will. The quality of bearing offenses and injuries without anger or revenge. Perseverance; constancy in labor or exertion.”

Foundational Thoughts on Perseverance

Swindoll maintains, “Believers must keep on the narrow path even when everything around us tries to push us off. Remain steadfast, stable, clearheaded in the midst of distress or disaster. It requires a firm footing on the foundation of faith, a clear focus on the pursuit of hope, and an unparalleled patience.” [Swindoll 298]

Blackaby encourages, “Be steadfast and endure, even if circumstances are stacked against you or you feel weak. Ask the Holy Spirit to strengthen your resolve.” [Blackaby 49]

Shaddix attributes perseverance as endurance. He states, “Peter’s readers certainly would need this attribute. To self-control they must add “endurance” in order to persevere under the persecution coming their way. [Shaddix 22]

Ivill refers to perseverance as steadfastness. She states, “Peter mentions steadfastness. It is not easy to bear up under temptation for long periods of time, yet it is necessary. If we are to grow in godliness, we must learn to exhibit Christlike character even in the face of a corrupt world that seems to dangle temptation before our hearts and minds at every opportunity.” [Ivill 110]

Wiersbe contends perseverance is the same as patience. He states, “Patience is the ability to endure when circumstances are difficult. Self-control has to do with handling the pleasure of life, while patience relates primarily to the pressures and problems of life. (The ability to endure problem people is ‘long-suffering.’) Often, the person who gives in to pleasures is not disciplined enough to handle pressures either, so he gives up.”

“Patience is not something that develops automatically; we must work at it. James 1:2-8 gives us the right approach. We must expect trials to come, because without trials we could never learn patience. We must, by faith, let our trials work for us and not against us, because we know that God is at work in our trials. If we need wisdom in making decisions, God will grant that wisdom if we ask Him. Nobody enjoys trials, but we do enjoy the confidence we can have in trials that God is at work, causing everything to work together for our good and His glory.” [Wiersbe 25]

Scriptures on Perseverance

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulations brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Romans 5:1-5)

For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. (Romans 8:24-25)

We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater; therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure. (2 Thessalonians 1:3-4)

OT Biblical Life of Perseverance

Naomi accompanied her husband from the land of Judah (current-day Israel) to the land of Moab (current-day Jordan) due to a famine in the land. Their two sons married Moabite wives, Orpha and Ruth. All three men died and all three women were left widows.

Naomi heard that the famine had ended and her home land (Judah/Israel) once again had plenty of food, so she desired to return home. She released her daughters-in-law to stay in their land (Moab/Jordan) and remarry. Orpha agreed to stay and she returned to her parents’ home. Ruth refused to stay, instead she traveled with Naomi to Judah (Israel).

Ruth followed after the harvesters and gathered any remnants of barley or wheat left in the fields. Ruth gathered enough to feed herself and Naomi. Eventually, Ruth married a relative of her husband’s family, Boaz. Boaz and Ruth had a child named Obed and gave him to Naomi to raise. Obed was the grandfather of David and in the lineage of Jesus.

Though things are different today in regards to death and raising up a child for the deceased, we can take encouragement from how Naomi’s perseverance through famine, moves to a different culture, widowhood, etc. was remembered by the Lord.

NT Biblical Life of Perseverance

Paul, a Pharisee and zealous persecutor of the church who became a preacher, apostle and teacher of Jesus Christ as the Savior who abolished death and brought life.

Paul persevered in his new faith even under death threats. Paul shares with Timothy, “I thank Him who enabled me, Christ Jesus our Lord, because He counted me faithful, appointing me to service; although I used to be a blasphemer, a persecutor, and insolent. However, I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. The grace of our Lord abounded exceedingly with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.”

“The saying is faithful and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first, Jesus Christ might display all his patience for an example of those who were going to believe in him for eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Timothy 1:12-17)

Paul persevered in speaking truth even when opposed by the religious rulers of his day. He was imprisoned multiple times for proclaiming, “The Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of His promise in Christ Jesus through the Good News.” (Ephesians 3:6)

 Paul persevered through every trial and encouraged the believers to be faithful to the gospel of Christ. Paul requested, “Therefore I ask that you may not lose heart at my troubles for you, which are your glory.” (Ephesians 3:13)

Historical Life of Perseverance

“Around 1400 an ancient French prophecy was revived that said the kingdom would be brought to ruin by a woman and restored by a daughter of the people.” [Goll 33]

Many believed the wife of King Charles VI of France, Isabella, “fulfilled the first part of the prophecy when she signed the Treaty of Troyes” (secured the accession of the French throne to the English), disowned her son (Charles VII, future king of France), and gave her daughter in marriage to King Henry V of England (strengthening his claim to the French throne). [33]

Joan was the third child born to farmers in the village of Domremy in northeast France. She could not read or write, but was skilled in sewing and spinning. She spent hours in prayer and was known to be tenderhearted towards the poor and needy. [34]

At the age of thirteen, Joan began receiving heavenly visitations of a bright light accompanied by a voice. Originally, the voices encouraged her in “Obey your parents” and things of that nature. When she was sixteen, the voices began to tell her to “Aid the disinherited Charles VII, the true king of France; drive the English away from Orleans and out of the country; and lead the procession to see Charles enthroned.” [35]

Joan Prepares

In preparation, Joan broke her engagement to a young suitor, cut her hair short, and began dressing as a boy (wearing pants). Some accused her of being insane while others denounced her as a witch (because of the voices). Joan persevered in obeying the voice who told her, “Go fight for the Dauphin (future king) of France against the occupational army of England.” [Andrew 23]

Joan persevered though she was originally shown contempt by: Charles military commander, Baudricourt; tested and half-heartedly received by Charles VII; examined by a large committee of highly educated bishops and doctors. Though illiterate, Joan persevered in answering everyone’s questions and it is said that Joan’s “Faith, simplicity, and honesty made a very positive impression on these learned theologians, who found nothing heretical in her claims of supernatural guidance.” [36]

Joan persevered through every test and boldly announced that, “She would deliver the city of Orleans; she would compel the English to raise the siege; she herself would be wounded, but would survive; and Charles would be crowned king before the end of the summer. As it turned out, all of these things were fulfilled just as Joan predicted.” This letter, written April 22, 1429, still exists today. [37]

Joan Lives

“Joan had such an incredible presence of the Lord on her that she drew people to her everywhere she turned. Joan proclaimed, ‘I have a vision from God. He has called me to raise an army for our nation and for Him.’” [37]

“As Joan’s presence became known, soldiers began to rush to her side by the thousands. Her presence filled them with new vigor and courage. She held up for them a standard of righteousness, purity, and devotion to the Lord, and they rallied around her. She required that prostitutes leave the camp, the soldiers attend chapel, and there would be no more cursing or using the Lord’s name in vain. As miraculous as it seems, they agreed as one body to come into holy living and purity.” [37-38]

Though successful in these military campaigns and in seeing Charles VII crowned as king of France, Joan was delivered into the hands of her enemies, the English who “feared and hated her because of the defeat and embarrassment they had suffered at her hands and they were determined somehow to take her life.” [39]

“The English knew that they could not legitimately execute Joan simply because she had defeated them in battle. Instead, their strategy was to have her condemned to death as a witch and a heretic. Joan’s practice of wearing male dress (used for modesty and practicality) was also used against her as evidence of her heresy.” [40]

“The trial of Joan of Arc is one of the most thoroughly documented events of that period of history. In the end, Joan was condemned to death for heresy and Joan was turned over for execution by burning at the stake.” [40-41]

Joan Dies

“Joan faced the flames fully conscious. As the flames rose, Joan called out for the cross. When it was held up before her, she called repeatedly on the name of Jesus, forgiving those who had wronged her and pouring out words of love and devotion to Him. Everyone who watched was deeply moved by her witness. Some repented and accepted Jesus on the spot. The executioner reported that her heart would not burn.” [41-42]

“Twenty-five years after her death, Joan’s case was reopened and the facts reexamined. As a result, Joan was declared to be completely innocent of all crimes, being neither a witch nor a heretic but a victim of jealousy, hatred, and political intrigue. For centuries she has been considered a French national heroine.” [42]

Joan obeyed the Lord: through verbal contempt and flattering praise; through trials and religious questionings; through dull court life full of worldliness; through horrific battles and painful injuries; through false accusations and lies; through false imprisonments with horrible conditions and continual harassment; and eventually, burning at the stake. Through it all, Joan persevered in her love and devotion for God, her obedience to His voice, and her patience with those around her.

Modern-Day Life of Perseverance

Nick Vujicic, an Australian American motivational speaker, was born with a rare disorder characterized by the absence of arms and legs (Tetra-Amelia syndrome).

Nick persevered as he “faced tremendous obstacles in life from, living life without limbs, to being bullied at school and fearful for his future with no purpose in sight. Without hope, his feelings of helplessness and isolation led him to attempt suicide.” With his family’s support, he lived a ‘normal’ childhood.

“Nick persevered through life’s challenges and discovered key principles which enabled him to find purpose and turn obstacles into opportunities.” He persevered through being “born limbless, to become a New York Times best-selling author, world-renowned inspirational speaker, coach and entrepreneur.”

Nick has a non-profit ministry called ‘Life without Limbs.’ He has given Ted Talks and spoken in prisons and schools. Nick has an anti-bullying curriculum – Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Curriculum called ‘Attitude is Altitude’ which he uses to advocate against anti-bullying and “teaches students to make positive changes in their lives and their communities.”

Nick’s perseverance has led to his main emphasis ‘Obstacles = Opportunities!’ “Nick’s passion is to inspire and equip the world to know that we all can rise above adversity and overcome every disability of the heart and mind.” [Vujicic]

Personal Life of Perseverance

Perseverance can be a positive persistence to complete an enterprise begun, a patient steadfastness as we overcome an obstacle, or an endurance through trials, sufferings, temptations or persecutions.

Prayer:

Lord, we thank you for Your grace and strength to persevere through hardships and trials. Thank you for helping us to “love from a pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith.” Thank you for providing a way of escape that we can flee wickedness “and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.” (1 Timothy 1:5, 6:11)

Blessing:

Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one purpose and with one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:5-6)

Recommendations:

Joan of Arc, a movie made in 1948, starring: Ingrid Bergman and Jose Ferrer; and directed by: Victor Fleming. It is an excellent movie and appropriate for family viewing.

For further reading on life and godliness, see Lisa’s post on Life and Godliness: Foundation and Faith https://strengthwithdignity.com/life-and-godliness-foundation-and-faith/

And Life and Godliness: Moral Excellence https://strengthwithdignity.com/life-and-godliness-moral-excellence/

And Life and Godliness: Knowledge Life and Godliness: Knowledge – Strength with Dignity

And Life and Godliness: Self-Control Life and Godliness: Self-Control – Strength with Dignity

Scriptures:

Ruth; Romans 5:1-5, 8:24-25, 15:5-6; Ephesians 3:6, 13; 2 Thessalonians 1:3-4; 1 Timothy 1:5, 12-17, 6:11

References:

Andrews, Andy. Storms of Perfection 4. Lightning Crown Publishers, 1997. [Joan of Arc, pages 22-24]

Blackaby, Henry and Richard, Thomas, Melvin and Norman Blackaby. Encounters with God: 1 & 2 Peter. Thomas Nelson, 2008.

Goll, Michal Ann. Women on the Frontlines – A Call to Courage. Destiny Image Publishers, 1999.

Ivill, Sarah. 1 Peter, 2 Peter and Jude: Steadfast in the Faith. RHB, 2017.

New American Standard Bible, Copyright 1960, 1971, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation.

Shaddix, Jim and Daniel L. Akin. Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in 2 Peter and Jude. B & H Publishing Group, 2018.

Swindoll, Charles R. Swindoll’s Living Insights: New Testament Commentary – James – 1 & 2 Peter. Tyndale House Publishers, 2014.

Vujicic, Nick. Dis-Arming Nick. Retrieved March 18, 2021 from https://nickvujicic.com/

Webster’s 1828 Dictionary. Retrieved February 22, 2021, from http://webstersdictionary1828.com/

Wiersbe, Warren W. Be Alert: Beware of Religious Imposters – NT Commentary 2 Peter, 2 & 3 John, Jude. Victor Books, 1984.

World English Bible (WEB) by Public Domain. The name “World English Bible” is trademarked.

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10 thoughts on “Life and Godliness: Perseverance”

    1. Yes, Theresa! Naomi, Paul, Joan of Arc, and Nick Vujicic are inspiring people of perseverance that encourage us to overcome external obstacles in the strength of the Lord.

  1. Lisa, your handling of perseverance here really opens up the depth of the word! I love your intertwining of the story of Joan of Arc, so much valuable information, I will need to sit here and savor, thank you!!

    1. Thank you for your encouraging words, Donna. Joan of Arc is such an inspiring person! If you get a chance to watch the movie with Ingrid Bergman, it really brings Joan’s character to life.

  2. I’ve heard a little from Nick Vujicic on Youtube videos and he seems quite amazing! And yes, definitely a modern-day example of perseverance! Thanks for this great study.

    1. Nick does have an amazing testimony of perseverance. His talks to students and prisoners on YouTube are very inspiring.

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