Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "The Banner Of The Cross"1 (Lyrics)
Romans 5:3-5 – Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. (NIV)
Of the multitude of quilts that I've made, only a few have been large: three queen-sized bed quilts for me and one each for my daughter and my son. I'd much rather make a lap quilt or a wall hanging that I can finish in a week or less. I'm always more interested in finishing a project than enjoying the journey along the way.
My first queen-sized quilt was inspired both by my first name, Sharon, and by learning that fourteen other women at my winter home share that name; I made a Rose of Sharon quilt. It involved a technique that was new to me, but I persevered through long days of cutting, sewing, quilting, and the mess that it created in the workroom that I shared with my husband. At one point, I was tempted to dump it and give the whole thing to charity — I've done this in the past with projects that didn't turn out. But I didn't, my husband loved it, and it gave me joy each time I walked into the bedroom.
Perseverance is a challenge, whether it's finishing a quilt, staying with a job that we don't like, or staying in a marriage through its ups and downs. My husband stayed at his job for 25 years, one that was boring and didn't use his talents to the fullest, so that he could support his family. The husband of one of my friends is sliding into dementia. She is a mighty example of faith as she ministers to him and his needs, often to the detriment of her own.
Christ gave us the ultimate example when He went to the cross for us. At any point, He could have called down a legion of angels to rescue Him or called down fire from heaven to destroy Pilate, Herod, and their courts. But He didn't. When Pilate asked Him if he was the King of the Jews, He replied, "You have said so." And that was all that He said; He didn't defend Himself; He didn't explain what He meant by that statement (not what Pilate thought); He didn't say anything to get out of the situation. Instead, He endured unimaginable pain and persecution to sacrifice Himself for our sins.
May we follow His example, persevering in whatever trials that life brings us, so that we can be witnesses to others and bring glory to God.
James 1:12 – Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. (NIV)
Prayer: Father, help us to overcome our own natural desires for pleasure and ease, to endure the trials of life, and to persevere to the end and our glorious home with You. Amen.