Saturday, August 8, 2009

Perseverance and Hope

The last few weeks have been hard for me--it seems to take very little for me to fall apart and I have done that several times this summer. What do I do when I fall apart? Eat! I eat ice cream and cream-filled pastries and more ice cream, raisin bread toast slathered in butter, regular toast loaded with butter and honey--pretty much anything sweet that I can find. I've been doing a lot of this lately, becoming worse and worse as time progressed until yesterday I stuffed myself with only those foods whose nutritional value was incidental.

I could see what I was doing. I knew I would regret it later, but it was a compelling force that, though I could have ignored it, I didn't want to. My doctor says it comes out of a sense of deprivation inculcated into my mind when I was very little and reinforced through time. I know I eat for comfort but it certainly isn't comfortable to gain ten pounds in a month.

Yesterday, in the midst of it all, I took some notes of my thoughts.
"I overeat and make bad eating choices when I feel discouraged, when everything feels hopeless, when I question, 'What's the point?' So bad eating is, for me, a symptom of depression, a symptom of not valuing or of devaluing myself."
So what do I do? How do I break myself out of this behaviour?

Lies! I am embracing and living out of lies and taking them as truth. What are the lies?
  1. Things are hopeless.
  2. There's no point in trying.
  3. It's not worth the stress.
Truths!
Well then, what are the truths? The word that came to me was "perseverance," so I searched online Bible study tools and found this:
  1. Suffering produces perseverance,
  2. Perseverance produces character,
  3. Character produces hope.
  4. Hope does not disappoint "because God has poured out his love into [my] heart by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given [me]." (Romans 5:3-5 NIV)
  5. The "point" is that:

Suffering à

Perseverance à

Character à

Hope...

...that doesn’t disappoint.

I've been disappointed many, many times. Why? Did I have the wrong kind of hope? Was I hoping for the wrong things?

Hope. All the symbols in my prayer room are signs of hope--that God loves me, provides for me, turns my darkness into light, is the Freedom Giver, has a way prepared for me, has promised to heal my marriage, fills me with his Spirit and changes me to be more like him; that I can write in a way that will bring God glory; that the neighbourhood of my church and my city can be healed; that Jesus is the Water that quenches my thirst; that he is the source of reconciliation and restoration; that I can be a light to the world and salt on the earth; that I can have joy and gladness in all circumstances and that Jesus died to give me life.

Perseverance. It is worthwhile to persevere in the midst of my discouragement, hopelessness and despair, through all the feelings that tell me not to bother and that nothing matters because hope will come through perseverance. Think of the widow who hounded (persevered with) the unjust judge! He eventually granted what she wanted just to get her off his back!

Command: "Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love."

Promise: "For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." 2 Peter 1:5-8 NIV

Faith +

Goodness +

Knowledge +

Self-control +

Perseverance +

Godliness +

Brotherly Kindness +

Love =

= Being effective and productive in my knowledge of Jesus.

= good (spiritual) vision

= remembering I have been cleansed from my past sins

= ability to not fall

= a rich welcome into Jesus’ eternal kingdom

I'm thinking that perhaps if I remember these truths, if I soak myself in them, I will begin to disbelieve the lies. I'm going to attach them to my wall, make them into a bookmark I'll keep handy and read them often. "Falling apart" or having a meltdown is a kind of suffering--it's a miserable place to be--but if I persevere in truths instead of buying into lies, perhaps the hope that seems so distant at those times will become more real.

God, please help me to persevere in the midst of the lies of hopelessness, despair and discouragement and hold onto the truths you have given: perseverance will, in the end, produce hope--a hope that does not disappoint. Help me to persevere in self-control so I can be more godly, see truths more clearly and keep from falling.


The following are the verses that talk about persevering and the links will enable you to check out the context of each one if you wish to study further.

Lu 8:15 - Show Context
But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.

Ro 5:3 - Show Context
Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;

Ro 5:4 - Show Context
perseverance, character; and character, hope.

1Co 13:7 - Show Context
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

2Co 12:12 - Show Context
The things that mark an apostle--signs, wonders and miracles--were done among you with great perseverance.

2Th 1:4 - Show Context
Therefore, among God's churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.

2Th 3:5 - Show Context
May the Lord direct your hearts into God's love and Christ's perseverance.

1Ti 4:16 - Show Context
Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

Heb 10:36 - Show Context
You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.

Heb 11:27 - Show Context
By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king's anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.

Heb 12:1 - Show Context
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

Jas 1:3 - Show Context
because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.

Jas 1:4 - Show Context
Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Jas 1:12 - Show Context
Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

Jas 5:11 - Show Context
As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.

2Pe 1:6 - Show Context
and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and toperseverance, godliness;

Re 2:2 - Show Context
I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false.

Re 2:3 - Show Context
You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.

Re 2:19 - Show Context
I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first.

New International Version

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