Ten years ago, one of the hot books on the New York Times Bestseller list was “Fast Food Nation.” Written by Eric Schlosser, the book examined the local and global influence of the American fast food industry. Although the book had a more academic approach, television circuits took liberties and started discussing our “immediate gratification generation.” It was a wake-up moment for parents and for the older of the generation Y set. But the problems weren’t fixed. Ten years later, we still have big — if not bigger — issues because all that talk didn’t address the root problem: a lack of perseverance and follow through.
I found it interesting that the very definition of perseverance acknowledges the hopelessness we typically feel in trying to get to the end. Perseverance, by definition, is to continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty or with little or no indication of success.
Little or no indication of success.
Why would we keep going if we have little or no indication of success? I found my answer in James 1:2-3 this week. It says:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-3
Now, James can give you a guilt trip every time if you’re not careful to understand what he’s saying. He’s penning something intensely important. He’s saying that you can’t just persevere through a trial by sheer will. You can’t do it by pushing through. You have to have FAITH. (Remember, faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we cannot see (Hebrews 11)).
Faith gives us a reason to keep going. We can’t see a purpose, but we know there is an outcome that’s worth our struggling, and so, keeping the goodness in front of us, we take another step. On the flip side, when we lose sight of a purpose for persisting, we’ll give up every time.
It’s not the trials that produce some Godly wonderful character; it’s placing God’s will, the betterment of others and ourselves, the betterment of our relationships with God and with men, despite that fact that it’s hard, that produces something in us. It’s believing in the ability of God to make something good out of all of our work and believing in His ability to change us that makes us better people. And it’s in choosing to receive God’s joy — to choose His blessing of peace and love, and assurance — that makes us stronger, healthier, happier people.
Going until the end, finishing well, is so important because it’s a completion of the blessing. Now that’s something that’s worth crossing the finish line for.
This worship song has very little to do with what I wrote about today, but it’s been the worship song in my head for a couple of days. I thought I’d share.