Perseverance. Is it worth it? What’s your purpose?

Life is hard, that is a fact.  One moment things can be going well, the next, well, not so much.

The elation Notre Dame must have felt getting to the championship game, for instance, was followed by a disappointing loss.  One moment their happiness is replaced with defeat.  The tide rolled.  And who likes to lose?  That is a fairly lame example since disappointments of that nature are not life threatening – but you probably get the point.  Elation is often followed by the reality of life, even if we are Alabama and win “the big game.”

Many of us know people who are without work, are suffering from cancer, have a loved one abusing alcohol or drugs, are trying to love a wayward child, are dealing with an aging parent or the loss of a loved one, or are dealing with a personal conflict of some sort.  As imperfect people, we struggle with life, all of us.  And while most of us know the beauty of life, that recognition does not always “lighten our load.”  Think about Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane before being arrested and crucified.  He was sweating blood.  Or when the Pharisees were trying to trap Jesus after he healed a person on the sabbath.  They focused on what they thought He had done wrong rather than embracing the fact He had just made a blind man see.  That is what I mean.  Years ago I heard the pithy statement, “no good deed goes unpunished.”  I thought it was funny then – not so much any more!  We are a very judgmental and unforgiving people – including Christians, if not more so.  We really are in a war down here on earth, if we take the time to consider the facts.

Do I sound gothic, depressing?  Maybe.  But the reality is that most of the greatest people on earth persevered through the most difficult circumstances.  Mother Teresa, for instance – she posted these words on her wall in Calcutta (written by Kent M. Keith):

People are often unreliable, illogical, and self-centered; forgive them anyway. If you are successful, you will win some false friends and true enemies; succeed anyway. If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you; be honest and frank anyway. What you spend your years building, someone may destroy overnight; build it anyway. The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; do good anyway. Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough; give the world the best you’ve got anyway. You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God. It never was between you and them anyway. 

She understood what I am talking about.  Many have recently watched the movie about Abraham Lincoln too.  Same deal.  All great people deal with very rough circumstances and yet persevere.  But why?

I believe the answer is purpose.  Mother Teresa knew God had called her to love the poorest of the poor.  She endured the hardships for His sake and her calling.   Ditto for Abraham Lincoln.  He believed he was the man to preserve the Union and free the slaves (although this was a longer process than his life).  And Jesus understood that He was to go to the cross for the sake of humanity.  It all came down to purpose.  That makes our understanding of our purpose critical.  I have been called by God to advocate for His poor and to share Jesus with those who do not yet know Him.  Despite setbacks or disappointments, I persevere for that end even though some days I wake up wondering why help so many people who often don’t want it or even know they need it.

How about you?   What gets you through the tough times?  You have a purpose you know?  Why else are you here?

May God bless you to know the purpose He has for your life and the strength to persevere to that end.  Otherwise, we may just be going through the motions which may not have the weight to carry us through the valleys – of life – at all, particularly when the tide gets rolling  (read John 14:6 and John 10:10).

Thomas Wheeler