Perseverance: How to Keep Going When You Want to Quit
A single step, forward or backward, separates those who persevere and those who quit. This article considers perseverance and quitting from a Biblical perspective.
Look at the image of the man kneeling at the edge of a cliff. He is hundreds of feet above the ground. One step forward, and he's the latest suicide casualty. He quit his life. Turn around and take one step away from the cliff, and he has succeeded in his latest adventure. His perseverance paid off!
Do you see how the image of the man on the cliff is similar to the figure-ground image below? The picture shows a man playing the saxophone and a woman's face. Both images are there; however, what we see depends on our perspective.
Because we live in a fallen world, we know we will face trouble. Jesus said, "...In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33
So Christians and non-Christians will have problems. But whether we rise to the challenges and persevere or fall away and quit is a personal choice. Think about the story of Jonah in the Bible. He initially quit on God but ultimately persevered.
Similarly, everyone has the opportunity to choose Jesus even before trouble comes. But first, we must acknowledge that the Bible is valid and reliable today. Once we recognize the Bible as God's authority over our lives, we can move forward in faith, knowing that nothing will be impossible for us (Jeremiah 33:3).
If you are still reading, I assume you agree the Bible is valid and reliable today. If so, let's look at how the scriptures can help us keep going when we want to quit.
What the Bible Teaches Us About Perseverance When We Want to Quit
How many times have you started something but quit when it became difficult? Maybe it was college or graduate school. Perhaps you began to train for a triathlon but didn't have the passion for keeping going. But, on the other hand, it could have been reading the Bible from cover to cover. For some of us, training for a triathlon is more manageable than reading every word in the Bible.
1. "Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always." 1 Chronicles 16:11
This verse is an excellent reminder to always seek the Lord. How many problems could we avoid if we looked for God's guidance before making the wrong choice? How many deep mud puddles of life could we extract ourselves from if we just reached out for God's hand? Perhaps He will send one of His angels to "lift you up in their hands, so that you do not strike your foot against a stone." Psalm 91:12
2. "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you." 1 Peter 5:6-7
Notice how we are to submit to His authority and persevere, no doubt, during times of trouble. God understands our anxieties and calls us to give our worries to Him. We often want to quit because we can't see an end to the struggle. It seems the stress will never go away. But God cares for you. So persevere...do not quit!
3. "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." Galatians 6:9-10
I have seen this scripture work repeatedly to help people persevere despite extreme challenges. Many in similar circumstances chose to give up. Their life ended in suicide. However, others engaged the power of the Holy Spirit, rose above their suffering, and set about helping others. Their ability to transcend the meaninglessness of their situation by doing good no doubt saved their life but also earned them a reward on earth and in heaven. Persevere. Help others. Don't quit!
4. "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." Romans 5:1-4
The Apostle Paul was no stranger to suffering. He understood that our peace with God comes only through Jesus. Paul knew that suffering produces perseverance that leads to character and hope. Therefore, we can see glory in our suffering while on earth. I know this isn't easy to comprehend today. We live in a society that wants to avoid pain and seek pleasure at all costs. Sigmund Freud's "pleasure principle" is like adding straw to the fire. The more you have, the more it consumes. Persevere in struggles. Character is developed when we don't quit.
5. "Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him." James 1:12
This scripture isn't as much about suffering as it is about temptations. But, again, think of the "pleasure principle." One who follows the mantra, "If it feels good, do it!" succumbs to every trial the enemy offers. Yes, the hedonist who seeks pleasure as their goal in life is persevering; unfortunately, they are quitting on God. That can't lead to anything good when the music stops, and the party is over. Persevere under trial. Don't quit on God.
6."Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that so easily hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." Hebrews 12:1-3
Many people today feel isolated and alone. Like the empty stadium I saw in "Guardian Angels in the Bible: Do they Intercede on Our Behalf?" some believe they have no one to cheer them on. No one to encourage them to persevere through life's troubles. But this is an illusion. If we fix our eyes on Jesus, we first see one light in the darkness and then another. Immediately the stadium is illuminated with a great cloud of witnesses. Our eyes are opened to God's reality that we are never alone. We can run the race set before us in comfort and security with perseverance, character, and hope. Don't quit. Jesus is waiting at the finish line.
7."Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved." Matthew 24:12-13
Here's the takeaway verse. If we are in the end times, as many believe we are, we must take a stand. We must maintain our love as we are instructed. We must stand in the gap when our brothers and sisters consider suicide their only option. We must write for and about God no matter how many read these words. It only takes one person to light a fire of passion for one's calling. So for those who write, write on! For those who read, you are the best of all! Stand firm and run the race God has set before you. Your perseverance is seen by the great cloud of witnesses who cheer you on. Don't quit.
One step forward or backward, toward God or away, is all that separates those who persevere and those who quit. Whether one takes a giant leap into the abyss of the world or they put one foot in front of the next following the narrow path of Jesus, it is a free-will choice. But, unfortunately, the world offers temptations of the flesh that are never satisfied. Unsatisfied temptations lead to a dead end, a dead end that ends in eternal death. But the wise will turn to the scriptures. They will find encouragement and instruction for navigating the many hazards of life. For those who persevere until the end, God offers eternal life. And the crowd of heavenly hosts goes wild!