The Christian life is a marathon, not a sprint. The point is not to see how fast we can run, but to see how long we run. There will be times of fatigue and pain, times when we are tempted to drop out and give up. No one completes a marathon without learning the value of persevering. Nor does anyone cross the spiritual finish line without learning that same lesson.

Temporary, short-term, transitory faith (a sprinter’s faith) is little better than no faith at all. A faith that does not hold up through the storms of life, through the length of life, is—in the end—practical disbelief. How sad to run the entire Christian race only to falter just before the finish line!

That’s why Scripture is so clear about the importance of perseverance in faith:

Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. (Heb 12:1)

But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop. (Lk 8:15)

We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. (Ro 5:3-4)

Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring. (2Thess 1:4)

You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. (Heb 10: 35-36)

The final (and essential) stage of faith involves learning perseverance. Life tends to be hard on faith. And there are spiritual forces at work in this world working to undermine faith. When convictions and commitments are tested and disputed, when trust is tried and pressed, when perspective is confused and questioned, only perseverance (and the God of all comfort) will see us through. Lacking perseverance, faith won’t survive. Satan will see to it that the good seed is snatched from our hearts, that good commitments and perspectives never flower into a faith that endures.

Part of our responsibility as a church is to help members persevere in faith, to teach and model the importance of “hoping against hope,” and—especially—to encourage a stubborn faith when times are difficult. We want to walk with you—through the peaks and valleys of life—to help you sustain your faith and stand beside you—when faith falters—to help you “press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called [us] heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Php 3:12).

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© 2012 by Tim Woodroof. Reproduction of this material requires permission from the author.