What is persistence? I would define persistence as, pushing through stubbornly amidst discouragements and obstacles; with the sole purpose of attaining a much desired outcome. The Hebrew word for persistence, is Perez. That means to push hard and burst forth. Genesis 38:29, “But when he drew back his hand, his brother came out, and she said, “So this is how you have broken out!” And he was named Perez. Persistence is a quality that differentiates between the lazy and the determined. It is allows you not to give up quickly, as some other people would in desperate and challenging situations. A persistent person is usually not bothered by how his/ her approach is viewed, because their minds are focused on receiving what they desire. In other words, he/ she leaves behind the sense of shame and pride at the door, in other to succeed in their quest. A persistent person, is a goal getter at anytime; he/ she refuses to be distracted or remain discouraged for too long. Persistent people have a clear vision of what they expect, and would not settle for anything less.
In the bible, we can see many examples of people who were persistent. A good example of such, is seen in the parable of The unjust Judge and the persistent widow in Luke18:1-8, “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’ And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”.
In this parable, we can clearly see that the persistent widow, would not relent at any cost; but was consistent in her pursuit for justice against her adversary. Her desperation for justice was strong, that she swallowed her pride as she relentlessly and persistently disturbed the Judge. Her quest for justice against her adversary, paid off because of her commitment to doing all that was within her power to get justice.
Another beautiful example of a persistent person is, The woman with the issue of blood, as seen in Luke 8: 43-48, “And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any, came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched. And Jesus said, Who touched me? When all denied, Peter and they that were with him said, Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me. And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately. And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace”.
Again, the woman with the issue of blood, threw all caution, dignity and shame to the wind; as she Perez’s through the crowd, to catch and touch the hem of Jesus’s life-giving garment. This woman while she pushed hard, busted forth amidst the strong crowd to attain what her heart was completely set upon. What amazed Jesus about this woman, was the fact her faith was matured in believing that the garments of Jesus was living and powerful, and able to cause the much desired change in her situation. This woman did not mess about with negative thoughts, obstacles or self worth, instead, she simply acted in great faith. You see, in that era, many people’s faith were not developed, not even the disciples at that time. So, when the woman encountered the Life-Giver Himself, He saw her radical and matured, yet humbled faith in the power of God, which sucked power out of Jesus. Jesus admired the woman because she was a focused goal getter at any cost.
Thirdly, another good example of persistence, is seen in an incident that transpired between Jesus and the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15:22-28, “A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly. “Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment”.
This Canaanite woman again threw all shame, pride and dismissal away, so could save her daughter who was demon-possessed. You see, Jesus would have gladly helped her, but during the time that Jesus lived on the earth, He abided by the dispensation of time, which at that time, was the Dispensation under the Law. That is, it was a time when the Jews abided by the Laws of God, given to Moses and the prophets (the Torah); which did not permit the Jews to commonly associate with non Jews. Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 5:17-20 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them”. This illustrated that Jesus was bound by the laws that He was born into. But praise God we are now living in the Dispensation of Grace, and no longer in the Dispensation of the Law. (We overcame the Dispensation under the Law, by the sacrificial Blood of the Lamb).
The Canaanite woman, understood this fact, but bluntly refused to be deterred by it. Instead, she Perez’s and indulged the Lord who is the Lord of all things, to reconsider His response. Jesus, was amazed again, that He witnessed such radical faith, especially coming from a non Jew. This woman could not be bothered by her status; all she cared for, was to seek help her afflicted daughter. Her love for her daughter, drove her to desperation to seek help.
I vividly remember a documentary I saw on BBC a long time ago. In this documentary, a male and a female water tortoises were swimming together as mates, then three other male tortoises appeared on the scene. They wanted to take over the female tortoise from its partner; therefore they lashed unto the female partner’s feet and pulled it down. This they did, in order to deter it from rising to the top of the river to get oxygen; which would cause him to release its hold on its partner. You see, water tortoises can only be submerged under water without air for 30mins. I watched as its revivals continued to pull this male tortoise down, but the male tortoise continued to fight its way up to the top, to get oxygen. He lashed onto the female partners feet with his mouth, while the female struggled to swim to the top of the river to help its partner. After what seemed like forever, the male and female partners made it to the top of the river, and they gasped for air. When the male’s rivals saw that the tortoise managed to rise to the top despite their attempts to deter him; they finally gave up on their endeavours and swam away, leaving the male and female partners to themselves. What inspired me about what I saw, was the persistence of the male partner, who fought against all odd to stay with its partner. It bluntly refused to give its partner up, therefore, together they both persisted to to top to get air. When the three rival tortoises saw them breathe the much needed air, they relented because they knew that the male partner now strengthened, was ready to fight relentlessly again to be with its partner.
Being persistent is not necessarily connected with strength in the body as we know it, but strength in the heart which stirs us provocatively from the inside. Persistence is usually born out of desperation and pain; which we want stopped by all means. It is a strong quality, which we can develop through strength in character; and with the help of the Holy Spirit. Persistence requires us to see and focus on the end of a thing, than the beginning. Persistence is a priceless virtue, especially in our prayers. We have to pray like these amazing women we saw in the bible, who dared to believe God against all odds. Hence the reason Jesus told us in Luke 18:1, “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” As children of God, most times when we pray and there is a delay in God’s response to us; we literally give up after the first or the second attempt. This does not reflect our strong faith in the Lord, because the bible reminds us that without faith, it is impossible to please God, or receive anything from Him. Our persistent faith, is what yields us our quick miracles and answers from God.
The Reasons why we Persist
1. To develop our faith.
2. To grow and increase in patience.
3. To give us time to ascertain if we are seeking after the right things.
4. To allow time for God to work all things on your behalf.
5. To see a desired change.
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