The formal definition of perseverance is "the continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition" (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). In writing, this definition looks simple, but to all of us who have experienced dark times, we know that continuing to put forth effort despite difficulties is far from simple. What, then, does it look like to persevere? How do we press on when the seemingly easiest option is to give up?
Allow me to share a personal example. I was inwardly dreading basketball season--not because of anything that was already in place. I absolutely love basketball, my teammates and coaches, and the excitement that comes with games and being part of a team. My dread stemmed from the barriers that I set up in my own mind, which caused me to feel insecure and incapable. For example, I was worried that I would be too out of shape and would feel nauseous after every full-court layup drill. I compared myself to my talented peers and doubted that my skill measured up to the expectations of my teammates and coaches. I allowed my insecurity and fear of failure to control my thoughts and make me question my identity. Why would I put forth the effort when it seemed much more comfortable and safe to give up?
Maybe you know the answer to that question. Personally, as I wrestled with these thoughts, I knew how I should have answered that question. I knew that I needed to be tougher and have more grit. I knew that all the laps around the gym would make me a stronger player. But I also knew that it was going to be hard, and I needed to make a decision. Was I going to let my insecurities and laziness hold me back from playing the sport I love with the people I love? Or was I going to accept the challenge and choose to have a better attitude in the face of hardships? It was in this moment that I needed to embrace what it means to persevere.
Persevering is striving to overcome and choosing to adjust your attitude, even though the ongoing situation you are in is challenging. It is willingness to stretch in ways that will make you a stronger person in the future. As Galatians 6:9 says, "Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up." If you are going through a hard time, let this verse be an encouragement to you and a reminder that you will grow from choosing to persevere. God is so powerful and has so much love for you. He is able to use the darkest times to strengthen you and bring glory to His name. He knows your heart and sees your tears, and will not let go of you. Even when it feels like you are surrounded by fear and hopelessness, you are even more so surrounded by Christ's love and mercy. Cling to that truth as you push on through whatever you are battling today.