The Lost Virtue of Perseverance

I ordered something for my office on Amazon a few weeks ago.

Currently, Amazon is prioritizing items based on what they deem as “COVID-19 essentials.” Apparently, my floor mat did not meet their criteria, so instead of being delivered in two days, it took over two weeks. Two weeks!!!

Like so many of us, I’m used to thinking of something, ordering it, and using it within 48 hours. I didn’t know what to do. Even though they said it would take longer when I ordered it, I couldn’t stop checking the delivery status every day. It can’t really take that long to get here, can it? The Pony Express delivered faster.

We live in an instant-gratification culture.

If I can think of it, I can have it.

NOW!

If a newer model comes out, I get it.

If it’s not working, I replace it.

I’m always on the lookout for something bigger, better, faster, cheaper.

My biggest problem isn’t trying to find what I want. It’s trying to decide on which of the hundreds (or thousands) of options I want.

NOW!

It’s not just materialistic consumerism.

This instant-expectation permeates our society.

I want everything – my work, my relationships, my faith – my way, right away.

If the job is too hard, I can find an easier one.

If the relationship is too difficult, I can find a better one (in the short-term).

If my beliefs are too uncomfortable, I can change them.

There is always a more desirable, shinier option just a “click” away.

COVID-19 is dealing our American value of “my way, right away” a serious blow.

I can no longer do what I want, where I want, when I want.

I have to follow guidelines I don’t like and rules I didn’t make.

I can’t have it my way. I can’t have it right away. Heck, I can’t even have a lot of it at all!

I’m realizing now how often I choose the path of least resistance. Now that path is isn’t an option.

Our instant-society has robbed us of our ability to persevere.

We’re not used to being in challenging and uncomfortable circumstances for long periods of time. Sure, we all go through difficult seasons personally. But we have never gone through anything like this together before.

COVID-19 is messing with our virtues of freedom and individuality.

Everything we’ve built our secular salvation on is crumbling. We can’t quit. We can’t tap out. We have to do something we haven’t had to do much of ever before: persevere.

Perseverance may be a lost art in our culture, but it’s been an enduring Judeo-Christian value for millennia. When Christians were facing persecution in the first century, James, the half-brother of Jesus, told them:

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

James 1:2-4

Listen friends, what we are experiencing right now is nothing like what Christians were enduring in the first century Roman Empire. They were being arrested, tortured, and killed (like many still are today in parts of the world). Yet, James tells them to rejoice.

Why?

Because persistence against resistance is how you grow.

Babies get instant-gratification. They cry and they get held. They are hungry and they get fed. We have a nation of babies crying because we can’t have it our way right away!

The true mark of maturity is the ability to persevere – to press on when things get tough, to get knocked down and get back up, to delay gratification. Adversity is just an opportunity for maturity.

My hope is that we will not be the same nation on the other side of this pandemic.

Rather, we will think of ourselves less and others more.

We will be less individualistic and more community-minded.

We will be less entitled and more resilient.

May our instant-gratification be transformed into instant-gratitude as we endure these present troubles.

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