Saturday, April 24, 2010

Try Again

One night last week, my 7 year old boy and I climbed into bed for our nightly ritual of story time. For some reason, he chose an old book of nursery rhymes that we hadn't read in years. "Daddy, Read this one!", my son said pointing to a short little poem titled “Try Again”, by an unknown author. After reading it, I thought to myself, "This sounds kind of familiar!" And after my son went to bed, I meditated on these words a little more. It made me think about “perseverance” and what it really mean to persevere? Is perseverance something that we do, or is persevering more about something that we are? Something that comes from within?

“’Tis a lesson you should heed,
Try again;
If at first you don’t succeed,
Try again;
Then your courage should appear,
For if you will persevere,
You will conquer, never fear;
Try again.
If you find your task is hard
Try again;
Time will bring you your reward
Try again;
All that other folk can do,
Why, with patience, may not you?
Only keep this rule in view,
Try again.”

In the book of James, it says that “the testing of our faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:4) I think that as we mature in our faith, through perseverance, we learn. We grow. Things that once seemed obscure become clear. We find success, and despite our circumstances, we realize that there is really nothing more we need.

Courage. What does it mean to be courageous, especially in today's culture? Life can still be a little scary, can't it? At times, down right terrifying. But we are to "rejoice in our sufferings, because we know suffering produces perseverance”? (Romans 5:3). How does a person rejoice when diagnosed with terminal cancer? How does a parent rejoice when their child is abducted? I guess we can be certain that our fears will be conquered because “in all things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37). Easier said than done, huh?

Like the forming of a pearl, sometimes life requires the passing of time before we see the rewards that life offers us. “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial.” (James 1:12) Later, James reaffirms this promise when he says, "As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered.” (James 5:11)

See, despite the rat race that we often fall into, and the constant battle to “keep up with the Joneses”, we can still have victory in our perseverance; not by other people's standards, but by those of God. So instead of other people, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2) and “let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (12:1).

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