Perseverance doesn’t always look the way we think it will. And sometimes we don’t even realize that we’re persevering, because all we see is the wilderness. There is a wilderness that accompanies perseverance, and I’ve just come out of it.
Does the Wilderness Fuel My Perseverance?
My last post was all about new life blooming in a very dead part of my life and heart. I touched on the deadness briefly, but in truth it was a wilderness. I couldn’t find my way out of that numb, grey deadness by my own strength. And I couldn’t seem to pray my way out either. It was incredibly discouraging, but maybe that was the point.
And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.
Galatians 6:9 NKJV
Even as I was horribly disheartened, I couldn’t stop crying out to the Lord for an answer. There had to be a way out, and perseverance felt like my only option. A fruitless option, but an option nonetheless. The wilderness was so wretched that I had to keep going, even when it seemed hopeless. At the time, I didn’t see it as perseverance at all. I sometimes thought that the wilderness was going to be my life and I’d better make peace with that. But God had other plans. How I felt and what I thought about the wilderness had no bearing on His move to get me through.
Perseverance in the Age of Instant
A lovely woman called me yesterday and told me about her wilderness. I heard despair in her voice and hopelessness in her words. And the Lord gave me something truly beautiful to say to her, to encourage her spirit. He said, “She has no idea what My view of her life is right now, any more than you did these last years.” She was as freed by that word as I was! We have NO IDEA what God thinks of our wilderness or how it serves His purpose. I tend to assume that He’s mad at me or that He’s punishing me or that He doesn’t care that I’m suffering. I assume the worst about Him and the worst about me. But I know nothing.
Andrew Murray’s father prayed for revival every Friday evening for 36 years before that prayer bore fruit. I cannot conceive of a desire that lasts 36 years, let alone the faith that perseveres in prayer for decade after decade with nothing to show for it. What a wilderness that must have been! And then, when Murray Sr.’s prayers did finally bear fruit, the spotlight was on his son’s ministry, not his own. Only Jesus Christ Himself could love that cleanly and without reproach.
Perseverance, by its very nature, is accompanied by a wilderness. It is especially grueling in this day of instant gratification. Too often we lose sight of the eternal because we’ve grown accustomed to our “faster is better” way of living. How fortunate we are to have the Holy Spirit to counsel and comfort us through the wilderness! A wilderness that is far more significant than we can imagine.
A man who endures trials is blessed, because when he passes the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.
James 1:12 HCSB