Thursday, June 30, 2011

C.S. Lewis on Perseverance

"God knows our situation; He will not judge us as if we had no difficulties to overcome. What matters is the sincerity and perseverance of our will to overcome them." C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity.

The first chapter of James states,
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance, and perseverance must finish its work in order for you to be mature and complete." (James 1:2-4).
What matters in life, is not what you achieve, but rather what you willingly endure.  We will all achieve various heights of achievement in life. In a very real sense it is irrelevant to God how much we achieve.  This is vitally important to remember.  We are saved purely by grace, there is nothing we can do to gain more favor with God.

No, the more interesting thing to God is our willingness to submit and to endure hard times. Just as we will all achieve different successes in life, we will all be handed different degrees of trials in life.  It is not helpful or useful to compare what others are given to endure.  Rather, what we each need to do is to submit our will, even when it means walking through a dark period in life.  What matters is our willingness to endure.  

Have you ever known someone who willingly suffered on your behalf?  Perhaps it was a parent who worked two jobs to provide for you.  Perhaps it was a friend who took money out of his savings to help you pay your rent.  Maybe it was a relative who willingly gave up a kidney for you.  Maybe it was not so dramatic, but a friend who made a special sacrifice to visit you when you were down or sick.  How do we feel toward such people?  Are we not overwhelmed with a feeling of being loved?

It is the same with God. If we are given difficulties in life, and we endure those difficulties, how do you think God feels toward us?  Is He not extra proud of us?  This is especially true if we endure with "a smile on our face", putting our faith and trust in Him.  We will be given special rewards for gracefully enduring trials.

I am not one of those who will tell you to just grin and bear it. If you are going through a hard time right now, I know it hurts, I know it is hard.  Yet, it is worth it to trust Him with it.  If you do endure and you do submit to Him, He will reward you greatly.  As it says later in the first chapter of James, 
"Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial; for once he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him."
There is no greater way to show God that we love Him than to willingly bear our sufferings, trusting that He will work things out for our benefit and His glory.

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