As a Christian success student, I am always pursuing biblical characters who demonstrate qualities that helped them stand out among their peers. These qualities represented their character and the principles by which they choose to live their lives.
In this blog, I will share with you what I have learned about persistence. Persistence is defined as a firm or obstinate continuance in the course of action despite difficulty or opposition. Often, this word is used alongside or as a replacement for the word perseverance, so let’s see the word’s definition. Perseverance is defined as persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.
If we study the root words and what they represent, we see that they have Latin roots. In Latin, persistence comes from the word persistent, which means to ‘continue steadfastly,’ and perseverance comes from the word perseverantia, which means ‘abiding by strictly.’
I would like to distinguish perseverance as a character in one’s life and persistence as an attitude evidenced in a specific action.
Furthermore, I define persistence as a patient pursuit of a determined outcome with an undeterred focus.
First, let’s see persistence in action, then walk through its characteristics and conclude with the role that belief plays in building persistence.
Persistence in seeking evidence
Gideon uses persistence to seek evidence for the promise given to him. When we read Judges 6: 36 – 40, we see what Gideon is doing. In verse 16, an assurance is given to Gideon. The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.” Now Gideon is hesitant to accept the promise to be true in his life. The hesitancy is born out of the narrative that he has led himself to believe. I have written about it here.
How often have we been in a similar situation, hesitating to believe in the promise of God?
Gideon goes out in faith, destroys the altar for Baal, and gets into a little bit of trouble with the local community. Now, he is thinking about taking a more significant step in line with the promise, but he is hesitant. Gideon is not sure if everything will work out as promised. As it is always with God, the result is grand, but it seems too good to be true in Gideon’s mind.
How often do we start analyzing God’s promises and find reasons why they will not work for us? And how is our situation very different from the situation in Bible times? What would it take for us to step out in faith? Would God still entertain our requests to verify his promise of success?
The Angel of the Lord patiently waits till Gideon brings the offering that he has prepared. Thank you, Lord, for your patience. God does what Gideon requests, not once but twice. God patiently waits for us to believe his word, step out of our comfort zone, and move forward in pursuit of our goals that will glorify His name.
What God did for Gideon encouraged him to trust that God can deliver the people of Israel with just 300 men. God is waiting for you to join Him in a quest to do marvelous things. Would you join him today?
Persistence in seeking the desired outcome
In this sinful world, sickness is one of those things that no one can escape from. Sometimes we face it bravely, while other times, the disease is more than we can handle. From time to time, we hear about how people come back after starring at the face of death, and we rejoice at their victory. It motivates us to face our own challenges.
Now imagine if you can go to someone who can change your situation in an instant. He says, and you become completely whole, and even better, you are restored of your full vitality. Would you pursue such a healer? Would you persist in receiving such a relief?
Let’s look at 3 such instances and see how they demonstrate persistence in their own way.
The Canaanite woman: Matthew 15: 22 – 29
The disciples come and urge Jesus to send this woman away, for she has annoyed them to such an extent. It does not look like the disciples are entreating on her behalf but rather want Jesus to get rid of her.
She has a single request – healing for her demon-possessed daughter. The way that Jesus deals with her brings out the belief that she has to see the desired outcome come true in her daughter’s life.
Jesus says some mean things only to reveal her faith to the disciples who were ready to dismiss her so easily. We do not know her name, but her persistence to seek the desired outcome is recorded in the Bible. Amen!
In verse 28, Jesus says, “Then Jesus said to her, woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.”
Her desire became true because she put her desired result above her ego. She did not care what others said about her. It did not matter to her. Her focus was on the health of her daughter.
The woman with the issue of Blood: Luke 8: 43 – 48
Luke records this woman whose name we don’t know with a health problem for 12 years. She has been looking for a solution to her situation and had not given up. No matter how long it took, she was determined to attain her desired result.
Her focus was so strong she did not care about the social expectations that existed that day. The woman pressed through the crowd and had decided exactly how she would receive the healing. She did not intend to say anything, nor did she want to call attention to herself or her situation. She did not care that the law of Moses stated her situation as unclean and expected her to isolate.
She desired to be made whole, and that is what mattered to her.
In verses 47, 48, we see, “Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. 48 Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”
She received her desired outcome precisely the same way she thought she would, by touching the hem of Jesus’ garment.
The Blindman at Jericho
We can follow this miracle in Mark 10:46 – 52. Jesus is leaving the city, and a huge crowd is following Him. Bartimaeus hears that Jesus is passing along the way. What an opportunity for Bartimaeus? It is as if the chance of a lifetime came looking for him. In fact, it was passing by the way he was seated. How often in life have we been in that exact same position? A golden opportunity is walking along our way.
Bartimaeus does not want to keep quiet, nor does he want to leave anything to chance. He begins to cry out. Are there any opportunities that are in your vicinity that you need to notice and seek out? Do you recognize it? Bartimaeus did. He says, “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!” He knew who Jesus was. He knew about his lineage.
Bartimaeus not only knew what he wanted but also knew the person who would deliver it to him. He had the knowledge about the opportunity so he could recognize his chance. How many opportunities have we missed because we could not recognize them?
The people around him told him to remain silent. The Lexham English Bible translates it as “others warned Him” other versions say, “others scolded him” What are they saying, the people around you? The people around you may not understand your desire. It may not be necessary to them as it is to you. They may come from a place of concern or even from a place of indifference, but I say to you, do what Bartimaeus did.
He calls out even louder. Are you thinking of giving up? Are others asking you to give up? Are you discouraged that the opportunity that you seek is not interested in you? Bartimaeus decided that he will go all-in; he will shout even louder to get the attention of Jesus.
I don’t think He did not notice nor try to avoid Bartimaeus, but I believe Jesus behaves differently to show that life is different for each of us. Like the Canaanite woman, one may come to your opportunity and be told mean things that could turn one away if they had a giant ego. Or, like the woman with the issue of blood, one may want to seek the opportunity discretely, but it turns out the other way. Or, like Bartimaeus, one may have to shout aloud to be noticed. Whatever the situation, focus on your outcome, and persisting will lead to your miracle.
All three of them probably had planned how things will go and turn out, but they would have been thoroughly surprised by how things went. The result was better than what they had imagined. It was all for the glory of God.
Persistence in seeking a new Identity
In Genesis 32: 22 – 3, we read about Jacob wrestling with another man. Jacob is returning home after being an exile for 20 years. Jacob had stolen his brother’s birthright and had to flee from his brother’s wrath. He had lived up to what his name meant ‘a supplanter’ and ‘to overreach’. Jacob now returns to his birthplace. He is married now and is a man of substance. There is an internal struggle going on in Jacob’s mind. He sends all his family across the river, and he stays behind alone. Jacob wanted to figure some things out.
Jacob is seeking a new identity from the man he is wrestling with. V.26, But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”Even though Jacob’s hip was injured, he does not want to allow the man to leave. Jacob pleads for a blessing. He is seeking a new identity. What is your identity? Are you looking to change your current identity?
V28, Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel,[a] because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”
God gives Jacob a new name. His new name represents Jacob’s new identity – one who has struggled with God and has overcome. What is the new identity that you seek?
God has given each of us a new identity. In 1 Peter 2:9, we read But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
We are God’s own special people. Are you ready to accept that identity? If you believe that God has given you a new identity, you will do what Jacob did. V.31, The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel. Israel (Jacob) crossed over the stream believing in the promise that he had just received.
Are you ready to step forward, accepting the new identity that God has given to you?
Persistence in seeking understanding
We come across the experience that Daniel had in Daniel chapter 10. He wants to understand the vision that he had. Daniel had been fasting for 3 weeks to receive an interpretation for it, but Daniel does not give up his pursuit to understand.
It’s been 21 days, and Daniel is still in pursuit of an answer. In V.12, we read, “Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.”
What knowledge and wisdom are you after? Have you faced some roadblocks in gaining understanding? God has sent you the answer already. All you need to do is stay in pursuit of the wisdom that you seek.
Daniel persisted in prayer to understand things that were to happen in the future to the people who were slaves in Babylon. To expand your skillset, you need new knowledge: sometimes that is easy to understand, while others may take time to comprehend. Persist in prayer and wait on God to reveal to you all that you need for His glory.
Let us revisit how I defined persistence; it is defined as a patient’s pursuit of a determined outcome with an undeterred focus.
All the examples that we have seen from the Bible demonstrate patience, determination, and focus while they persisted in seeking the outcome they desired. It is also crucial to note that these heroes’ actions ignored reason or logic, and their efforts were not time-bound. They were prepared to wait as long as it took to realize their dreams.
You can also see the close relationship between belief and persistence. These heroes’ actions demonstrated their belief or their actions helped them move from a place of unbelief to belief.
You can exercise your persistence today. Go after your desired outcome by seeking evidence, seeking understanding, seeking a new identity, or doing what it takes to see your dream come true in your life.