“What’s the secret to persevering [in the faith]?”
Countless people have asked me that. And, I know why.
The majority of people ask that because they haven’t gone “anything like [me].” Some ask that question because they want a short and sweet answer. And, there are some people who genuinely want to know my thoughts, advice, or wisdom.
I only have one answer:
“God just didn’t let me go.”
We Let Go… A Lot
Maybe a big reason why I continuously get asked that question is that the person knows how weak he/she is. I’m only guessing that’s a major factor because I was that person less than four years ago. It seemed incredible that people could be going through pain and suffering and remain steadfast in their faith in Jesus.
We too often forget that we are born with a sinful nature and only sinful desires. But God, through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, he gives forgiveness of sins and freedom from bondage to sin.
God gives us the faith to believe in him. We didn’t want to love God before he gave us faith. If it were up to us, we would have never wanted to love and obey him. So, building on that, we would never be able to hold on to God because we let go… a lot.
Thank God that God is not like us. He doesn’t and wouldn’t let go of us.
He Holds On, Always
Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
Because of you
we are being put to death all day long;
we are counted as sheep to be slaughtered.
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:35-39 (emphasis added)
What can separate us, disqualify us, or cause God to let go of us?
In this section of Romans, the Apostle Paul makes it very clear to the church in Rome that nothing will make God let go of us. He lists a bunch of stuff, making it painfully clear that everything in existence couldn’t make God let go of those he has saved (ex: death, life, the present, the future, etc).
If Paul, being divinely inspired by God, the Holy Spirit, says that nothing can force God to let go of those who have faith, nothing will do so. God doesn’t let go of those he has given faith, and God won’t let anything – pain, suffering, even our moments of sin – loosen his grip on us. He holds on, always and forever.
Due to this fact, the questions remains: How do we persevere?
We Persevere Because He Preserves
In another letter a church, this time in Thessalonica, Paul talks about the trials and tribulations the church has faced and is currently facing.
Therefore, when we could no longer stand it, we thought it was better to be left alone in Athens. And we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s coworker in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you concerning your faith, so that no one will be shaken by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are appointed to this. In fact, when we were with you, we told you in advance that we were going to experience affliction, and as you know, it happened. For this reason, when I could no longer stand it, I also sent him to find out about your faith, fearing that the tempter had tempted you and that our labor might be for nothing.
1 Thessalonians 3:1-5 (emphasis added)
Paul sent Timothy to “strengthen and encourage” the church while they are facing hardship. He also sent him to make sure they’re persevering, and if not then he was concerned that they never believed in Jesus.
Notice one thing: being shaken in your faith is not the same thing as not believing. You can struggle in this life, and maybe doubt at times, but that does mean God has or ever will let you go.
The one proof you have towards your genuineness of faith is how you respond when life gets hard. Pastor and author, Dave Furman says this well,
“The validity of their faith was shown in how they responded to trials, so their persistence in that same faith in Christ was the proof that it was genuine. If you are believing in Christ in the midst of your pain, friend, be encouraged: that’s the proof that God will keep you to the end.”
Dave Furman in Kiss the Wave (emphasis added)
If God saves us, he holds onto us. It would be unlike God to to forget us and forsake us. He remembers us and he keeps us.
We can not save ourselves; God saves us. We can not persevere on our own; God preserves us. We were given salvation and nothing can snatch that away.
God holds on to us. And that is good news.