“How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? …But I have trusted in Your mercy; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.” —Psalm 13:1, 5
There’s a difference between patience and perseverance. Patience is having the right attitude for the moment. Perseverance is having patience over the long haul. We’re often not good at either, but both are needed in the Christian life. Thankfully, God’s mercy allows us to develop our patience and perseverance when trials ruffle our feathers—or threaten to shoot us down.
The central air conditioner went out in my house at a most inopportune time: four o’clock in the afternoon on the Friday of a Fourth of July weekend. And, boy, was it a scorcher! Since I had plans for a barbeque and a ballgame to watch, I called a service guy, and a few minutes later he appeared at the front door.
“I got bad news…” he began.
Before he could say another word, I held up my hand and said, “Listen up, brother. Remember, it’s the Fourth of July, so be careful what you say next. It’s crucial I get this thing running today. I’ve got BIG plans.”
“Well, we can get it fixed for ya,” he replied, “but not until Tuesday.”
In that moment I had a choice to make. I could have been impatient and berated him for how he runs his company, which wouldn’t have been a good Christian witness. Or, I could have exercised patience. I opted for patience—and a little redneck engineering: I went old school. I went and got me a window unit and slapped that baby right in there. That’s how I was raised. I mean, give me a window unit, put a towel under the door, wrap somethin’ around the outside of the unit, and I’m good to go.
Life throws us curveballs, like losing your air conditioning, being delayed in heavy traffic, or waiting for hours for the doctor to see you. These events test our patience in the moment.
Perseverance, on the other hand, is patience on steroids. It’s patience applied over time. It’s waiting weeks, months, even years for the prodigal child or spouse to come home. It’s putting your faith in God that He’ll sustain you when your family member has a really bad illness. Perseverance is having faith that God will give you strength to care for your disabled child for their rest of their life.
King David knew all about life’s tough trials. He was on the run for his life from his best friend’s father, Saul—a man whose own life David had spared on several occasions. His perseverance was running on fumes. His faith was taxed to the max.
He finally cried out, “How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever?” (Psalm 13:1). That’s a fair question. But look where David goes with his crisis of faith—he puts his trust in God’s mercy (verse 5). He knows God will be compassionate and ultimately save him from his trial. In the New Testament, I like the way James puts it: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance” (James 1:2-3 NIV).
May God increase our faith to have patience and perseverance.
What are you waiting on God for today? How has he given you the strength to persevere?
From a “Set Your Sights” Faith Devotion from Al Robertson in the Duck Commander Faith and Family Bible.