Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses...let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus.
—Hebrews 12:1, 2
Especially if we see our lives of faith as journeys into God, we will soon discover the fundamental necessity of perseverance—traditionally highly valued among the Christian virtues, since without it we can hardly hope to continue on the way.
Undoubtedly there were times when the Israelites sojourning in Sinai followed the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night more doggedly than easily.
Sometimes only the prior decision to keep going can in fact keep us going: Valiant Sam, Frodo's companion in Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, is the real hero of the story because he is the one who never gives up, who is determined to get to Mount Doom or die in the attempt.
Sam would, I feel sure, agree with the sentiment of a bumper sticker I saw recently: “If you are going through Hell, keep going.”
A friend of mine once walked the entire pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, hundreds of weary miles. He confesses that there were many days when it was almost impossible to keep going. Cold rain, bad food, blistered feet, fleas in the hostel beds, all conspired to dissuade him from finishing. The original intention to make the pilgrimage began to seem foolish, pointless, even dangerous on those discouraging days.
In retrospect he recognized those nay-saying impulses as the Enemy's temptations, and was even more grateful than he had been at the time for the encouragement and companionship of his fellow pilgrims. Surrounded by a cloud of witnesses, he was able to run (or at least walk) with perseverance the route he had set before him, while alone he would have been inclined to quit.
God, to whom we look for guidance on our journeys, you not only go before us to show the way, you surround us with those who love you, to keep us from giving up. We give you thanks and praise for all the people through whom you give us light and strength.
Copyright ©2005 Deborah Smith Douglas.