If you’ve read Lord of the Rings, you’re familiar with Frodo and Sam’s arduous journey through Mordor to the Cracks of Doom. After all hope has faded, after it’s clear that continuing will mean their deaths, and even after their strength wanes to the point they’ve lost ability to walk and must crawl onward, still they choose to press on. So great is Sam’s determination that even when faced with the despairing facts of the situation, he declares to himself “I’ll get there, if I leave everything but my bones behind…and I’ll carry Mr. Frodo up myself, if it breaks my back and heart.” As they persevere, we cheer their progress and we celebrate their eventual victory, won through enduring much hardship. They are heroes.
This sort of hero fills the page of epic fantasy literature…the kind that presses on through the darkest of perils, simply because it is right to do so, because they are standing for what they believe true and worthy. They may experience moments of doubt, where despair nearly overwhelms them, and they may misstep or occasionally falter, but when it comes down to it, they persevere. Indeed, I would argue perseverance is a significant part of what makes a hero, because without that choice to continue standing after all hope of victory vanishes, the day would certainly be lost. Only in the choice to persevere through trouble and danger, despite the odds, do these heroes gain victory. Something about the nature of this struggle grips the emotions, because it’s a pattern that plays out in life.
Yet while this courage appears so heroic and admirable on the pages of a book, it usually doesn’t seem that way when you face circumstances requiring perseverance in your own life. Though we may not quest through peril-ridden countryside or battle a Dark Lord (at least physically), we confront challenges that require a choice to persevere, to press on day by day in the midst of painful circumstances, loss, suffering–all sorts of trials and foes. Some trials come and go quickly, requiring one sort of strength, both those that last month after month, year after year, require something different–endurance and a steadfast determination to stay the course and trust God’s nature and goodness in the midst of it.
It’s painful in the forming, but God works something inside you through perseverance, something of strength and beauty. And he always brings forth redemption, even out of the most difficult of circumstances. It’s not fun, and it usually doesn’t feel glorious–but it brings victory in the end.
So if you’re one in the midst of a difficult situation or up against a foe that seems too strong for you, if you are struggling to endure or wrestling to hold fast to the goodness of God, I want to encourage you with this scripture: “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Take heart, and know that your hope–hope founded in the nature and goodness of God–will not disappoint.
Image credit: JRR Tolkien