August 2, 2009

Perseverance

And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. (Rom 5:3-5 KJV)

Yesterday, my husband and I took a drive up to Sandia Crest and a stroll along the top of the crest. I noticed this tree trying to gain a root-hold in the rock. The stout little tree reminded me of one of my ongoing spiritual struggles--becoming patient.

Several years ago, I asked my spiritual director how I could work on being more patient. After chuckling, she reminded me that when we pray for patience we are often giving opportunities to practice patience. She then gave me this citation Romans as a study. Since that time, I've had many chances to practice 'patience' and I don't know if I'm much further down the road toward obtaining a patient heart.

The Greek word translated as 'patience' in the KJV is now more often translated as 'perseverance' or 'endurance'. The word is hupomonē, which means cheerful (or hopeful) endurance or constancy as well as patience. The NIV translation says:

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. (Rom. 5:3-5 NIV)

I think that translation sheds new light on what 'patience' is. Rather than being a resigned waiting for whatever will be, a la the old Doris Day hit "Que Sera Sera,"* patience is an action verb. It is indeed, as the NIV translation says, perseverance--a steady, constant action or belief over time. Patience/perseverance is the development of our distinct, individual qualities into the person God calls us to be. As we grow into our character, we grow closer to God. We also learn to hope and trust in God's never-failing love through the action of the Holy Spirit.

Instead of sitting around waiting to 'be patient,' we need to learn from the trees on top of Sandia Crest. They grown in and through and around the rock because they sink their roots into the soil beneath the stone. Like them, we can learn perseverance and develop our character in Christ by sinking our roots deep into the soil of faith despite the obstacles of boulders in our path.
I invite you to consider ways you can persevere in your walk with the Lord. Are there 'boulders' that you have let get in your way of growing into the person God envisions? Can you stretch your faith roots around them to get to the soil? Who knows what vistas may open up for you when you perservere in the Lord?
*For those who don't remember the song, the refrain is:
Que sera, sera
Whatever will be, will be
The future's not ours to see
Que sera, sera
What will be, will be

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