Tag Archives: perseverance

Ruth 3,4; Acts 28; Jeremiah 38; Psalms 11,12

I’m finishing up listening to an audio version of a book called 5 Habits of a Woman Who Doesn’t Quit by Nicki Koziarz (not paid or otherwise compensated to mention this book). A friend recommended it at large, and I tucked it away for someday. While I’m not sure how the title came back into my sight line, I can say that several times this year, there have been things I wanted to quit (and things I didn’t want to quit but thought I might have to because this pace is wearing me too thin). I decided to give the book a listening to. In it, Koziarz discusses Ruth.

Today, in Ruth 3 and 4, I read the conclusion of (Ruth’s) story, where her kinsman redeemer marries her, joy is restored, and she is part of royal lineage–and all because she made the choice not to quit. She exhibits strength, loyalty, faith, perseverance, patience, and trust.

And what doesn’t Paul go through in Acts? In this chapter, he’s warming himself by a fire after a shipwreck. He’s bitten by a poisonous snake and survives. After months, he continues on his journey to Rome.

30 For the next two years, Paul lived in Rome at his own expense. He welcomed all who visited him, 31 boldly proclaiming the Kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ. And no one tried to stop him. (Acts 28:30-31, NLT)

He persevered too, and not in a roll-with-the-punches sort of way: he boldly proclaimed the Kingdom of God and taught about the Lord. He was resilient and focused.

Jeremiah’s unpopular message made him a traitor to be lowered into a cistern and left for dead. But that wasn’t where his story stopped. Though he couldn’t climb out in his own strength, he was raised out of the cistern because of the petitions of an important court official. Jeremiah’s message didn’t change–surrender or else. A tough job.

15 Jeremiah said, “If I tell you the truth, you will kill me. And if I give you advice, you won’t listen to me anyway.” (Jeremiah 38:15, NLT)

He didn’t quit.

In the psalms, encouragement still (emphasis mine). Don’t quit.

I trust in the Lord for protection.
So why do you say to me,
    “Fly like a bird to the mountains for safety!

But the Lord is in his holy Temple;
    the Lord still rules from heaven.
He watches everyone closely,
    examining every person on earth.
The Lord examines both the righteous and the wicked. (Psalm 11:1, 4-5, NLT)

And

The Lord’s promises are pure,
    like silver refined in a furnace,
    purified seven times over.
Therefore, Lord, we know you will protect the oppressed,
    preserving them forever from this lying generation,
even though the wicked strut about,
    and evil is praised throughout the land. (Psalm 12:6-8, NLT)

Maybe one day the things I’m going through won’t seem so big-hairy-scary-heavy. Maybe one day I’ll look back and laugh at what I thought was difficult. In real time, the things are big and heavy and difficult. And yesterday, I was looking to quit.

Thank you, Lord, for all that you are teaching me about who you are and what you can do. Thank you for showing me that character is developed through trials, and perseverance is built one day at a time. Help me to keep my eyes fixed on you.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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Joshua 8; Psalm 139; Jeremiah 2; Matthew 16

I thought a week off from routine would restore me. Now, a second week closing, I feel myself slipping into hermit mode. I pulled up Psalm 139 to read, and I cried. This is a Father’s loving hand upon a daughter’s head. He is right here with me. He knows me best. Even when I slip into hermitting, He comforts me in this new territory of angry grief. He does not abandon me.

(All of Psalm 139, NLT, because it is so good. Emphasis mine.)

O Lord, you have examined my heart
    and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
    You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
    and when I rest at home.
    You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say
    even before I say it, Lord.
You go before me and follow me.
    You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too great for me to understand!

I can never escape from your Spirit!
    I can never get away from your presence!
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
    if I go down to the grave, you are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning,
    if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    and your strength will support me.
11 I could ask the darkness to hide me
    and the light around me to become night—
12     but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
    Darkness and light are the same to you.

13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
    as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
    Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
    before a single day had passed.

17 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
    They cannot be numbered!
18 I can’t even count them;
    they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
    you are still with me!

19 O God, if only you would destroy the wicked!
    Get out of my life, you murderers!
20 They blaspheme you;
    your enemies misuse your name.
21 O Lord, shouldn’t I hate those who hate you?
    Shouldn’t I despise those who oppose you?
22 Yes, I hate them with total hatred,
    for your enemies are my enemies.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 Point out anything in me that offends you,
    and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

 

A friend shared some hurtful things going on in her life, and by all accounts, her anger is justified. But I saw what it was doing to her and those around her. I said, “I get it. I’d be mad too. But how long is enough? How long (of being angry) will make you feel better? I hate to see you work yourself into a pit that’s hard to get out of.”

The words spoke into my life as well. At the time, I couldn’t bring myself to say it, because it can seem so unfair–but maybe the antidote for anger is forgiveness. Because the thing about anger, can it ever be satisfied–especially in circumstances where there is no justice? Some things can’t be taken back or fixed. Anger is like a hot coal being tossed into hands. How do (we) let go when memory sears?

Oh, Lord, point out the offenses. Lead me.

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. 25 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. 26 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?] Is anything worth more than your soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26, NLT)

Lord, I would be so utterly lost without your word, your love, your forgiveness. Thank you for loving me so much, that even in the angry grief, you don’t leave me. You tell me to get back on my feet and follow you.

Courtney (66books365)

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Deuteronomy 12; Psalms 97,98; Isaiah 40; Revelation 10

The words read like a feast to me: rich, filling, satisfying. It’s all praise, and don’t I want my days filled with a heart song? Before I settled into reading, I was hanging out in some memories of the past year, times with a table full of guests whether a holiday or a poetry tea. Times of closeness, nature, celebration. Such a gratitude welled up in me. Thank you, God. Thank you for beauty, provision, family and friends.

There you and your families will feast in the presence of the Lord your God, and you will rejoice in all you have accomplished because the Lord your God has blessed you. (Deuteronomy 12:7, NLT)

Even on the days when grief hit hard, or the load was so heavy, or my nerves felt frazzled–it would be the simplest of things that would remind me of God’s great grace–a friend to listen, a timely word of encouragement, the honey sweetness in a warm tea, stunning sunsets after hard days. Thank you, God. Thank you for your presence and reminders everywhere.

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A glowy sunset after a powerful storm

The heavens proclaim his righteousness;
    every nation sees his glory.

11 Light shines on the godly,
    and joy on those whose hearts are right.
12 May all who are godly rejoice in the Lord
    and praise his holy name! Psalm 97:6, 11-12 NLT

And:

Shout to the Lord, all the earth;
    break out in praise and sing for joy!
Sing your praise to the Lord with the harp,
    with the harp and melodious song,
with trumpets and the sound of the ram’s horn.
    Make a joyful symphony before the Lord, the King! Psalm 98:4-6, NLT

Yesterday I met with a woman who has helped me pack up the business pieces my father’s life. She shared her own story of now listing her home to move out of state to be near her aging parents and help them transition to a facility where they’ll receive the care they need. Two other friends are also managing affairs of a parent who has died or is near death. In all this, I learn from them about heart, priorities, self-care (which I never would have imagined being a regular word in my vocabulary!), perseverance, and faith. There is a peace knowing I don’t walk alone, and that God is with us–each of us. Thank you, God. Thank you for those who walk alongside as help or as example. Thank you for companions in traversing difficult paths.

26 Look up into the heavens.
    Who created all the stars?
He brings them out like an army, one after another,
    calling each by its name.
Because of his great power and incomparable strength,
    not a single one is missing.
27 O Jacob, how can you say the Lord does not see your troubles?
    O Israel, how can you say God ignores your rights?
28 Have you never heard?
    Have you never understood?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of all the earth.
He never grows weak or weary.
    No one can measure the depths of his understanding.
29 He gives power to the weak
    and strength to the powerless.
30 Even youths will become weak and tired,
    and young men will fall in exhaustion.
31 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
    They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
    They will walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:26-31, NLT)

Thank you, Lord, for strength you give me on the hard days. You are ever so close, encouraging me and loving me.
Courtney (66books365)

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Leviticus 9; Psalm 10; Proverbs 24; 1 Thessalonians 3

Last year I read a book that really influenced my perspective. There were many parts that spoke to me, and this one verse was gentle encouragement for a raw heart. Reading it today is calming still.

A house is built by wisdom
    and becomes strong through good sense.
Through knowledge its rooms are filled
    with all sorts of precious riches and valuables. Proverbs 24:3-4, NLT

Lord, build this house.

Not very much farther down the screen (I read online), these words stand alone:

If you fail under pressure,
    your strength is too small. Proverbs 24:10, NLT

I think on times and things I’ve quit, and times and things I’ve wanted to quit. Even last night, elusive sleep and restless from this time of What It Is, I wondered where is the exit for these tasks I feel grossly unqualified for. I feel that pressure. I feel like I’m faltering. Yes, my strength is too small.

Lord, be my strength.

My child, eat honey, for it is good,
    and the honeycomb is sweet to the taste.
14 In the same way, wisdom is sweet to your soul.
    If you find it, you will have a bright future,
    and your hopes will not be cut short. Proverbs 24:13-14, NLT

These afternoons, I prepare a warm mug of tea, sweetened with a heaping spoon of honey. I sit and savor the break, the sweet drink. I find sweetness in His Word, and scriptures from memory remind me–oh, taste and see, the Lord is good.

We sent him to strengthen you, to encourage you in your faith, and to keep you from being shaken by the troubles you were going through. But you know that we are destined for such troubles. Even while we were with you, we warned you that troubles would soon come—and they did, as you well know. That is why, when I could bear it no longer, I sent Timothy to find out whether your faith was still strong. I was afraid that the tempter had gotten the best of you and that our work had been useless.

But now Timothy has just returned, bringing us good news about your faith and love. He reports that you always remember our visit with joy and that you want to see us as much as we want to see you. So we have been greatly encouraged in the midst of our troubles and suffering, dear brothers and sisters, because you have remained strong in your faith. It gives us new life to know that you are standing firm in the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 3:2b-8, NLT

Lord, on the days I take my eyes off you and look too long at the impossible or at the what-if road ahead, I weaken. Learning daily, to be–daily, and to know my limitations are not your limitations. I cling to your promises, grateful for your strength and wisdom. When I feel weak, help me to stand firm in you, keeping my eyes on you.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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Job 4-7; Psalm 99; Revelation 11

He wanted to die.

“If my misery could be weighed
    and my troubles be put on the scales,
they would outweigh all the sands of the sea.
    That is why I spoke impulsively.
For the Almighty has struck me down with his arrows.
    Their poison infects my spirit.
    God’s terrors are lined up against me. Job 6:2-4, NLT

He found no relief in the days–his mind active on all he’d lost, his heart full of grief, at night, his body in torment.

“Is not all human life a struggle?
    Our lives are like that of a hired hand,
like a worker who longs for the shade,
    like a servant waiting to be paid.
I, too, have been assigned months of futility,
    long and weary nights of misery.
Lying in bed, I think, ‘When will it be morning?’
    But the night drags on, and I toss till dawn.
My body is covered with maggots and scabs.
    My skin breaks open, oozing with pus. Job 7:1-5, NLT

His friends–little help. He’s trying to make sense of the weight of his troubles. Today’s reading, the glimpse I get.

But that is not the end of the story.

End times reading reveals greater terrors.

When they complete their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the bottomless pit will declare war against them, and he will conquer them and kill them. And their bodies will lie in the main street of Jerusalem, the city that is figuratively called “Sodom” and “Egypt,” the city where their Lord was crucified. And for three and a half days, all peoples, tribes, languages, and nations will stare at their bodies. No one will be allowed to bury them. 10 All the people who belong to this world will gloat over them and give presents to each other to celebrate the death of the two prophets who had tormented them.

11 But after three and a half days, God breathed life into them, and they stood up! Terror struck all who were staring at them. 12 Then a loud voice from heaven called to the two prophets, “Come up here!” And they rose to heaven in a cloud as their enemies watched.

13 At the same time there was a terrible earthquake that destroyed a tenth of the city. Seven thousand people died in that earthquake, and everyone else was terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.

14 The second terror is past, but look, the third terror is coming quickly. Revelation 11:7-14, NLT

Today’s reading, just a glimpse I get. And even here, that’s not the end.

Quiet reflections on the past year. Sitting still with the memories of the challenges, the heartbreaks, the losses.

When I was in my twenties, I tried to bike the C&O Canal towpath. At one point, I was walking my bike through the Paw Paw Tunnel. And right in the middle of the tunnel, the light from the ends seemed like pinpoints. It was so dark, I couldn’t even see what I was stepping on. I didn’t expect it to be so dark, and I’m not even sure I expected to travel through a tunnel. I could go back and be stuck, or I could work through. I worked through it.

This past year, there was a time where I felt stuck in the middle. It felt just as dark and uncertain as that day in the tunnel, only it lasted a lot longer. But looking back with a December vantage point: that was not the end of the story.

Today’s readings remind me there’s more to the story–and there’s a great God who holds it all together.

The Lord is king!
    Let the nations tremble!
He sits on his throne between the cherubim.
    Let the whole earth quake!
The Lord sits in majesty in Jerusalem,
    exalted above all the nations.
Let them praise your great and awesome name.
    Your name is holy!
Mighty King, lover of justice,
    you have established fairness.
You have acted with justice
    and righteousness throughout Israel.
Exalt the Lord our God!
    Bow low before his feet, for he is holy! Psalm 99:1-5, NLT

Courtney (66books365)

 

 

 

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Lamentations 1-5; Psalm 137; 1 Peter 4

Yet I still dare to hope
    when I remember this:

22 The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
    His mercies never cease.
23 Great is his faithfulness;
    his mercies begin afresh each morning.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
    therefore, I will hope in him!”

25 The Lord is good to those who depend on him,
    to those who search for him.
26 So it is good to wait quietly
    for salvation from the Lord.
27 And it is good for people to submit at an early age
    to the yoke of his discipline:

28 Let them sit alone in silence
    beneath the Lord’s demands.
29 Let them lie face down in the dust,
    for there may be hope at last.
30 Let them turn the other cheek to those who strike them
    and accept the insults of their enemies.

31 For no one is abandoned
    by the Lord forever. Lamentations 3:12-21, NLT

***

Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8, NLT

***

19 So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you. 1 Peter 4:19, NLT.

Hope. Lamentations is a cry of pain. Verse after verse, it is bleak. But then, this: “Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this …” The Lord is good to those who depend on him and search for him. Thank you, God of hope.

Grace. I learn about this regularly. In the most difficult situations, I’m still learning how to show deep love. This is not easy. But it is grace. Help me, Lord, to be free with love. Help me to guard my heart against all the yuck that wants to squeeze out room for grace.

Perseverance. A call to keep on doing what is right. To trust God with my life and my everyday.

In the dark places, Lord, when I’m not sure where a path leads, help me to hold onto you, to love others deeply, and to keep doing what is right. You know I need these reminders. Thank you for hope. Thank you for grace. Thank you that you are trustworthy with all parts of my life.

Courtney (66books365)

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Daniel 3, 4; 1 John 3

Throwback moment to middle school. Something about reading of the fiery furnace and the distorted rage in King Nebuchadnezzar‘s face took me back to the threats of a best friend turned enemy.

13 Then Nebuchadnezzar flew into a rage and ordered that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought before him. When they were brought in, 14 Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you refuse to serve my gods or to worship the gold statue I have set up? 15 I will give you one more chance to bow down and worship the statue I have made when you hear the sound of the musical instruments. But if you refuse, you will be thrown immediately into the blazing furnace. And then what god will be able to rescue you from my power?” Daniel 3:13-15, NLT.

I was near facing fire when I wouldn’t submit to her way–her walk down a destructive path. I was subject to her taunts and name calling at the corner walking home. Girls who had been my friends abandoned me to avoid the heat of her hardened heart. I was told she waited by my locker once, ready to set it on fire.

It wasn’t as though I had some great moral platform and a lineage of wisdom and righteousness to support me. It was more that I was afraid of where her path would take me if I followed, and, lacking mature tools to handle conflict at fourteen, I did the only thing I could do: put one foot in front of the other and walk on. I don’t remember much of the remainder of that school year. And starting high school in a new school the next year was lonely as I tried to find my fit. Little did I know then: middle school was the boot camp for real life.

I found that the dynamics that governed eighth graders govern adults too; people in little bodies grow into bigger bodies with egos and expectations just as large. And while it seems unimaginable that someone would erect a statue of themselves today and demand an audience to worship them, it’s not beyond reason that someone could turn hard against those who are different or don’t cater to their demands.

11 This is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 12 We must not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and killed his brother. And why did he kill him? Because Cain had been doing what was evil, and his brother had been doing what was righteous. 13 So don’t be surprised, dear brothers and sisters, if the world hates you.

14 If we love our brothers and sisters who are believers, it proves that we have passed from death to life. But a person who has no love is still dead. 1 John 3:11-14, NLT.

In middle school and in middle life, I think on those times of a solitary walk and am comforted by this: God was with me. When I thought I stood alone, he stood with me. When I thought I walked alone, he walked beside me. And when an enemy attacked and flamed me with words, God whispered to me, “Walk on.” And he took my hand.

Courtney (66books365)

Lord, I’m grateful that I can see your very real presence in my life–even in years before I ever went to church or opened a Bible. Thank you for standing with me when I felt unable to stand, and thank you for urging me on when I felt too weary to walk. Thank you for brothers and sisters in Christ who’ve prayed for me and loved me as part of your family. I wondered how I could ever be thankful for experiences that brought so much heartache, but you’ve shown me yourself when I thought I had nothing. I may not be able to count on (people, situations), but I can trust in you and the power of your spirit. You amaze me.

 

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