I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. — Philippians 3:14 (NRSV)
Following Christ is not for the fainthearted. This issue is full of stories of people who have demonstrated or witnessed persistence and perseverance in faith. Our writers describe finding joy in their circumstances despite their suffering, looking for God when God seems far away, and continuing to follow God’s call even when it is not their original plan or desire. These stories of persistence inspire me to consider what helps us to persevere in faith when we are discouraged or feel far from God.
For Moses and the Hebrew people, the hope of freedom in a new home kept them moving forward through 40 years in the wilderness. For the disciples who had been fishing all night without catching anything, the hope of a reward for their labor encouraged them to cast their net one more time on the other side of the boat. For Paul, the hope of salvation through Christ helped him to push on through adversity.
In my experience, persistence in faith pays off in many ways. The more I look for God, the more likely I am to see signs of God at work in my life and in the world. When I press on through adversity, God is able to use my gifts and abilities in ways I could not have foreseen or imagined. As you read this issue, I invite you to consider your own experiences of persistence, to look for signs of God’s presence, and to hold on to the hope of new life in Christ.
While several strategies for reopening the world are being discussed, I encourage you—the people of God everywhere—to allow this season to be a formative one during which you can make new discoveries about God and increase your faith. Use this time to embark on a life of prayer, a life of study, and a life of action—involvement in the community.”