Perseverance isn’t always a good thing. Sometimes we persevere in bad habits or in behaviors that do not benefit us. Stubbornness, pride, anger, resentment, unforgiveness—all these bitter pills can poison our souls and lead to loss. Loss of what? Loss of joy, loss of peace, loss of relationship with God and our fellow Christians. Our forgiveness in Christ is not a license to continue in sin; it should spur us on, as Hebrews 10:14 says, as we become holy.
We don’t strive against sin in order to be forgiven. We strive against personal sin because we are forgiven, and Revelation 22:12 tells us clearly that Jesus is coming soon.
Let us recall one more time the crew of Earnest Shackleton’s expedition. They were all rescued, but they were not all rewarded. Four men—hardy, strong, and experienced—lost their opportunity to receive a high honor upon their return to civilization. As we noted earlier, Shackleton said the four men had fallen short in the fulfillment of their duties and responsibilities. All four, at one time or another, failed to recognize Shackleton’s leadership, thereby putting everyone else at risk.
Did Shackleton’s crew struggle to survive for two years so that they could one day stand before the king of England and receive a medal? Of course not! Neither do we serve the Lord day by day with future rewards in mind. But the scriptures make it clear that if we faithfully persevere in following Christ, we will surely receive an eternal reward. (See Matthew 16:27-28.)
Reflect today on whether there is anything that is hindering your growth in Christ—perhaps a harmful habit or minor rebellion, a favorite resentment, or a spirit of resistance. Ask God to help you let go of whatever it is so that you may continue to grow in faith.
The inability to have a child brings pain to many today, and this was equally true in ancient times. In that context it was sometimes even worse, for Peninnah openly ridicules Hannah for being unable to conceive. But as a result of Hannah's desperate, heartfelt prayer, God blesses her with a son, Samuel, who will become a powerful prophet. Hannah then rejoices in a God who exalts the poor and needy. Hannah provides an example of the boldness with which we also can approach God now because of Christ’s sacrifice. The destruction of Jerusalem is the focus of the passage in Mark. Jesus here predicts the demolition of the Temple and the city, which the Romans executed in 70 ce.
Read 1 Samuel 1:4-20. How do you persist in prayer when your prayer seems unanswered for a long time?
Read 1 Samuel 2:1-10. How do you express your joy and thanks when God answers your prayer?
Read Hebrews 10:11-25. What helps you to persevere in the practice of your faith?
Read Mark 13:1-8. What signs make you anxious about the future? What helps you to hold on to hope?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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