Quit or Press On?
“Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing
the hard work you already did.”
In May 1788, William Wilberforce, a Member of Parliament, introduced a 12-point motion indicting the slave trade. The motion was soundly defeated, but Wilberforce was not. His campaign only intensified.
So did the opposition. A coalition from all walks of life formed—political, business, and social—as “the trade” was so intertwined in the financial interests of the people. Even the Crown stood against him. Wilberforce was viewed as a dangerous radical, threatening to undermine the economies of much of Europe. In battle after battle he was defeated.
No one could deny his perseverance. One observer wrote: “Wilberforce is blessed with a very sufficient quantity of that enthusiastic spirit, which is so far from yielding that it grows more vigorous from blows.” An astute observation: Wilberforce was defeated again in 1791, 1792, 1793, 1797, 1798, 1799, 1804, and 1805.
The perseverance of the abolitionists eventually turned the tide of public opinion. In 1806, Parliament finally abolished the slave trade throughout the British Empire. Wilberforce wept with joy.
When going through a storm of opposition or adversity, it’s easy to want to quit. There is no reason to keep going when we face obstacles at every turn. Or is there?
Some people stop at the first signs of adversity because they don’t think they have what it takes to survive the storm. In reality, God can provide every bit of strength we need.
The apostle Paul faced a menacing obstacle as he ministered—so personal a burden he called it “a thorn in my flesh.” As he prayed, God promised his grace would be sufficient for Paul. Paul then concludes: “Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
Psalm 130 begins, “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.” The Psalmist went to the Lord in distress and there discovered the strength to conclude: “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. O Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption” (Psalm 130:5-7).
In what battles, right now, am I tempted to give up? Is there room in my weakness, in insults, distresses and sufferings for God to show up strong?
My prayer this week—Lord, will you help me evaluate the obstacles before me—to discern when to quit and when you’re calling me to exercise more faith and perseverance? May the power of Christ dwell in me and may He be strong in my weakness!