Recently, I’ve found a women’s bible study group at a local church that I’ve fallen in love with and have gone back to week after week. Along with a group of 5 other girls led by the pastor’s wife, we are going through a book called “Disciplines of a Godly Woman.” Every week, we read up and share about one discipline: worship, prayer, good deeds, witness and so on. What had touched me the most was the chapter on the discipline of perseverance.
First of all, why do we persevere? James 1:4 tells us that perseverance is produced by suffering and produces character so that we may be mature and complete. Suffering produces endurance, character, and hope in God. Often I have found that it is in the most difficult or uncertain periods of my life that I’ve come to grow the most in my faith and learn to rely fully on Christ. For instance, in my recent move to LA, I’ve come to realize what a great sacrifice I’ve made. I’ve removed myself from the closeness of friends, the intimacy of a church group, and the nearness of family, and I’m trying to root myself in a new and foreign environment. It is not easy at all. Some days are good days where I discover a glimpse of the new city and fall in love with it a bit more. Other days, I just want to rewind my life back to Houston, when I was surrounded by people I love and who know me through and through. But what is encouraging, is my knowledge that Christ is in control, and that He has allowed the trials and temptations to confront me. And he is praying for me through my suffering.
Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers. Luke 22:31
Before the sifting comes, it first passes through Christ’s prayers and the merciful hand of God. Knowing this grows my confidence tremendously. God’s purpose for the sifting is to prove and perfect my faith. And in days when my own hope fails or when other people fail me, I know I can rely on my hope in His plan for me.