Learning how to persevere is one of the most valuable skills a single person can have. Without a spouse to cheer us on, we have to be self-motivated.
When we're beaten down by one disappointment after another, it's tempting to say "What's the use?" and give up.
If you're a Christian, hanging on is easier. Your strength comes from God and ultimately your goal is God. He always helps those who seek him.
Let's look at four principles that will help you keep going.
If you're a believer, you're not just living life, you're living the Christian life, and that makes all the difference. By definition, the Christian life is lived for and through Christ. You approach the day-to-day with a totally different set of assumptions than nonbelievers.
First, you have the Holy Spirit living inside you. Acting on behalf of Jesus, he is your reliable strength and guide. His power is subtle. He won't let you wave your hand and actually move a mountain (that was a metaphor in the Bible), but he will cut your intimidating, mountainous obstacles down to size.
We tend to panic. We don't immediately see a way out of our troubles so
we assume there is no way. But God can make a way when we can't see one,
and usually that way is straight through, with him holding our hand
during the scariest parts.
That's what God did for me when I was fighting cancer—twice. The way out was through, through brutal radiation treatments. I got so weak I was afraid I would die. God had other plans, though, and he pulled me through.
Second, you need to focus not on the bigness of your problem, but on the bigness of your God. Jesus created the universe! From nothing, yet! Knowing his power is on your side puts your roadblocks in the proper perspective.
I think about how many times in the past I told myself, "This is the end. I'm not going to make it through this." And yet I'm still here, and so are you. We focused on our problem instead of our God.
Often, all you need is the strength to endure. When God is working on your behalf, his help is usually invisible. It seems as if nothing is happening until somehow, miraculously, you make it through.
That was my experience when I was grieving the deaths of my father (1995) and my brother (2019). Surely, carrying on after the death of a loved one is the toughest trial we can face. I discovered how to persevere by remembering they were safe with Jesus. Contrary to all earthly appearances, they were better off than I was. Each day became a little easier. I still miss both of them, but once again God brought me through.
When you're wondering how to persevere in the face of gigantic troubles, remember that even impossible things can be accomplished one small step at a time.
That was the secret behind the pyramids in Egypt, the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World still standing. They were built one stone at a time. All of the books I have had published were written one word at a time. We earn our high school diploma and college degrees one test at a time. We conquer illness and debt one step at a time.
There have been days in my life when I told myself, "I can make it through the next hour." I'd do that, then get through the next hour, and the next, until it was time for bed and rest.
One of the keys in how to persevere is setting an achievable goal, then celebrating it when you do. The reward doesn't have to be huge, just something you enjoy that's meaningful to you. And don't forget to thank God for making it possible.
You may need to keep reducing the size of your goals until they're achievable. That's all right. The objective is steady progress, even if it is slow.
We get impatient. We get frustrated at setbacks or lack of advancement. Sometimes it's enough just to "tread water," so to speak and not go backwards. But if you do have a reversal, try to learn from it and get back on track.
Learning how to persevere is not a smooth, uninterrupted journey. You will have delays, but a detour is not the end. That leads us to our next principle.
Rest is absolutely necessary. Burnout comes from pushing too hard, too fast without taking a break. Learning how to persevere demands regular time off so your mind and body can recuperate.
You may be tempted to press on, to keep going without a break when a goal is in sight. Resist the urge to overdo it. You can receive the power of God, but you are not God yourself. When the Bible tells us God rested on the seventh day after creating the universe, it shows the wisdom of down time.
Some of your best ideas will come on a day off or vacation, when your mind is relaxed. Write them down so you don't forget them, but don't end your rest to put them to use. We feel more like engaging again after taking a break.
I once had a boss who didn't take his vacation time. He loved his job so much it didn't feel like work to him. But believe me, when he got married, his wife made sure they went on vacation and did something relaxing. She was a wise woman.
How can you rest and regroup in your personal life, when the mere act of living is a struggle? Again, take a mini-vacation by reading a book, treating yourself to a snack, or listening to your favorite music.
You will never learn how to persevere until you learn the necessity of breaks. Work and rest is the natural cycle of life. Follow God's example.
The fourth principle in how to persevere is to keep a long-range perspective. Whether it's work or personal struggles, we are emotionally tied to the present-moment battle. When we zoom out, however, we realize our daily struggles are like pieces in a jigsaw puzzle. Sometimes they don't make much sense individually, but together they form a picture of growing closer to God.
God wants to build Christlike character in you and me. Unfortunately, that doesn't happen without suffering. The fact that we live in a fallen world guarantees suffering will come to all of us. Even the rich and famous can't escape it.
Since suffering is unavoidable, our goal should be to learn the lesson and grow from it. I know. That's easier said than done when the pain is almost unbearable, but using these principles may help you make some sense of it.
Keep in mind heaven is your goal. Today is one step closer to it. This, by far, is not the best life you will have. That begins when you are home with Christ.
You can press on knowing you have an eternal destination and are relentlessly heading toward it. Each day, no matter how difficult, is an accomplishment.
Jack's paperback book, Hope for Hurting Singles, is a great guide to persevering through the single life.
You'll get practical, proven advice on how to get through such common problems as loneliness, depression, frustration, anger, bitterness, and low self-esteem.
To read the first chapter absolutely FREE, click here.
Hope for Hurting Singles is $10.99 in paperback from amazon.com and $3.99 for the Kindle version.