Patience, Perseverance and Endurance

Perhaps the two biggest mistakes in our walk with the Lord are:

  1. Rushing ahead of the Lord – i.e. a lack of patience
  2. Giving up prematurely – i.e. a lack of perseverance and endurance

Instead we need to do as told in Isaiah 52:12 and follow Him“the Lord will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard.”

The Bible tells us often to “wait on the Lord” – but nowhere does it say to hurry!

Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the LORD!” (Psalm 27:14)

“Those who wait on the LORD, they shall inherit the earth.” (Ps 37:9)

“But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)

To wait on the Lord requires patience – one of the fruits of the Spirit

“By your patience possess your souls.” (Luke 21:19)

“….that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” (Romans 15:4)

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:2-4)

Patience is not just sitting around doing nothing

Instead, the Greek word we translate as “patience” actually means “expectant waiting”

Expectant Waiting is akin to waiting on tables – with God as our customer

In this mode, we stand by keeping a close watch on God’s table, waiting to take His order the moment that He is ready

When He is ready, we must immediately come to His table and find out what He wants us to do

And then we burst into action to ensure that His order is implemented quickly and effectively

Another analogy that describes this kind of expectant waiting is that of a soldier in a military unit in war time waiting for the General’s orders to spring into action

As the troops wait, they do not sit idly by twiddling their thumbs

Instead, they spend their time in constant training for the upcoming action and in maintaining their equipment

This is called a state of readiness which takes a lot of work to maintain even as they await their marching orders

So too do we need to maintain our spiritual readiness even as we wait on the Lord for our marching orders

That’s why we must keep our armor of God in tip-top shape and remember to strengthen our armor every day

And that’s why part of our armor is having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace”  (Ephesians 6:15)

We have to keep ourselves trained and ready at all times

How do we do this? By keeping in prayer, in the Word, in fellowship with Jesus as well as with other believers – and out of sin!

Perseverance

The Greek word for patience is often translated as perseverance in different translations

“But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.” (Romans 8:25, NKJ)

“But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.” (Romans 8:25, KJV)

There is, of course, a close relationship between patience and perseverance

But there are some important differences too

We can be patient in waiting for something to happen, but we might not persevere in prayer or remain in the Word or continue to do the last thing the Lord told us to do

To persevere means to keep on keeping on despite all the forces that seek to discourage us (e.g. circumstances, the devil, evildoers, etc.)

The Scriptures which tell us to put on the armor of God (Ephesians 6:13-18) conclude with a call to perseverance, using an entirely different Greek word here that literally means “persistence”

“… praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18)

This verse, by the way, is the only Scripture to use this particular Greek word

There is only one other Greek word in Scripture which is translated “persistence” in the NKJ version (translated “importunity” in KJV)

Importunity is defined by Webster as “entreating persistently”

Endurance

Endurance grows out of perseverance, but has an added quality

Webster defines endurance as: the ability to withstand hardship or adversity; especially, the ability to sustain a prolonged stressful effort or activity (e.g. a marathon runner’s endurance)

Sometimes, we have an attitude of perseverance, but our strength runs out

The Scriptures exhort us to have endurance:

For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised(Hebrews 10:36, ESV)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us(Hebrews 12:1, ESV)

But, how do we get more endurance when we’ve run out of strength?

If you are on the right path and doing God’s will, He will strengthen you

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)

He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength.   (Isaiah 40:29)

My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness…. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2Corinthians 12:9-10)

If you don’t receive extra strength from the Lord, you have to consider that you may not be doing what God wants you to be doing

Biblical Examples

Read Matthew 15:21-28

In this example, a Caananite woman (i.e. one who is not Jewish) seeks the Lord’s mercy and healing for her daughter’s demon possession

Jesus, however, “answered her not a word

This often happens to us too – we pray and receive no answer, so we shrug our shoulders and give up

However, this woman did not give up – instead, she persisted and kept “crying out after us” (NIV)

Jesus then stated the reason that He had not answered her: “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of Israel”

The mission given to Jesus by His Father was only to minister to the Jews

Still, the woman persisted – and, most significantly, did so even as she “worshiped Him

So, Jesus finally answered her entreaties – but still not favorably, saying, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.”

In talking about the “children’s bread” Jesus was referring to His mission of preaching the gospel (the bread of life) to God’s children (the Jews) and that He shouldn’t take anything away from that mission

But the woman responded, however, that even “the little dogs (i.e. Gentiles) eat crumbs which fall from their master’s table”

This persistent act of faith eventually caused Jesus to change His mind and give her that which she asked for

Read Luke 18:1-8

Here’s another example of persistence – This widow sought justice from my adversary from a judge who “did not fear God nor regard man”

However, due to the widow’s persistence, the judge gave into her request in order to avoid becoming “weary”

Jesus then goes on to say that if this is what an “unjust judge” does, think how much more God will do for the “elect” (i.e. born-again believers)

But only if they “cry out day and night to Him” (v7)

Then Jesus goes on to relate faith and persistence, implying that if we give up and don’t persist then we lack faith!

Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth? (v8)

Read Luke 11:5-13

Here, right after giving us the “Lord’s Prayer” in response to the disciples’ request to “teach us to pray” Jesus gives us another example of persistence

In this example, a man is trying to get some bread (i.e. God’s Word) from a friend who has already retired for the evening and is not interested in getting up again

Yet, “because of his persistence” the friend (i.e. God) “will rise and give him as many as he needs

Then right after this, the LORD gives us His well-known call to ASK

Ask, and it will be given to you”

Seek and you will find

Knock and it will be opened to you

These show an increasing level of persistence, starting from the first ask, to the action of seeking and finally to assertively knocking on the door to God’s throne room

But, once again, this only works if we are on the right path and doing God’s will

Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him. (1John 5:14)