Life throws us many challenges, and certainly doesn’t come pre-packaged with easy answers. Currently our church is walking through I John. It is much more than the “love book” – as I preach through it, I’m struck by the emphasis on perseverance. We are assured that God will never give up on us; yet, we are exhorted to do our part and press on in Him.
We are encouraged to persevere in two specific ways, both of which are very striking.
First, we must persevere in the truth. We need to know what God says, believe what God says, and obey what God says. It's so easy to get sidetracked and lose our focus! Our focus should be the Person and work of Jesus Christ, because that’s certainly the big idea in the New Testament. Jesus is Lord: He is creator, sustainer, and judge. There is none like Him. He is glorious and faithful, always with us. Jesus suffered and rose again, for me. I am loved and accepted without question. My intrinsic worth is forever upheld because my God calls me by name. My guilt and shame are completely covered by His precious blood. He’s coming back to make all things new, my future is secure. He has replaced the empty passions and fleeting pleasures of the world with abundant and eternal life. I can serve Him NOW with a clear conscious and trust Him with my whole life because of who He is and what He’s done for me. Soli Deo Gloria.
What else helps us press on? Hope. God began a good work in us through Christ’s first coming and He’s going to complete that work when He comes again. My hope is not in the here and now. This world is broken, sin has ravished it thoroughly. Look around – the world is full of hurting people: grief, heartache, failure, disappointment, sad goodbyes. We gain perspective and strength as we focus our hope squarely His glorious reign and certain return. Imagine eternity: uninterrupted worship before the Throne with suffering and temptation being noticeably absent. It’s so easy to pin our dreams on other things: marriage and family…the perfect job…the new house…financial security…popularity…you name it. Many of these are of course blessings that God gives us to enjoy. But if our hope is pinned on them and not on Christ, they won’t satisfy and our pursuit of them will will often not yield what we’d hoped. I don’t understand everything about eternity and that’s OK: What we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.
What about you? If you’re in the valley, don’t throw in the towel! Keep pressing on and fix your eyes on Jesus: He is the same yesterday, today and forever will never let you down. You are loved, protected and treasured. You have a future. May God lead us all to the rock that is higher than I.
In [your heavenly hope] you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire —may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.