Seems that in some quarters, perseverance has become a dirty word. In our instant gratification world, with “I want it – and I want it now!” the prevailing mantra, we don’t like waiting. We don’t want to waste time persevering in the pursuit of something that’s slow in coming.
Imagine if, instead of persevering, the early explorers had quit at the first hint of adversity. Christopher Columbus, Ferdinand Magellan and Marco Polo all would have returned home, declaring, “Nothing to see there. Move along.” (And think of the loss for kids that play hide and seek in pools every summer, shouting “Marco…Polo!”)
Same applies for Lewis and Clark, along with others who ventured out to see what they could find beyond the Mississippi River. There might never have been an Oregon Trail or a California gold rush. “Why keep trying? We’ve got it good right where we are. Perseverance is so overrated, anyway!”
Every great human accomplishment has come with great investments of time and sweat, in one way or another echoing the slogan, “If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.”
As some of you know from my writings, I’m a huge Ohio State Buckeye fan. When I donated blood, the phlebotomists were always amazed to see it come out Scarlet and Gray. But in more than 50 years of following the triumphs and travails of the Buckeyes, I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed a more moving moment than what occurred just a few weeks ago.
A backup wide receiver, Kamryn Babb, caught a touchdown pass late in a game to cap off the day’s scoring. No big deal, right? Except for those who have followed Babb’s star-crossed career, it was a big deal. The fifth-year senior at OSU had suffered one debilitating knee injury after another, keeping the once-promising athlete off the field. His seemingly inconsequential TD reception also happened to be the first pass he had caught over his entire career.
When Babb caught the pass, his teammates exploded with excitement and fans rejoiced, knowing how he had persevered and rehabbed after each of four ACL tears, one while still in high school and three after joining the Buckeyes. Interviewed after the game, Babb admitted there were times when he felt like quitting, that his dreams of being a high-level collegiate wide receiver would never be realized.
However, determination and even more important, his faith, prevailed. “Some people will say, OK, four ACLs, it’s time to give up,” he said. “But I know the God I serve, so I look at it as, ‘Why not me?’”
The player, elected a team captain despite having played only a small number of snaps on special teams, had finally experienced a big personal moment on a huge, nationally televised stage. There is no way to measure the impact of his relentless perseverance on his coaches and teammates who witnessed his struggles every day in practice.
C.J. Stroud, the quarterback who threw the eight-yard touchdown pass to Babb, said after the game, “He’s the most respected on our team, and I’m super proud of him…. This team, we’re behind him, and he’s behind us.”
Dedication and determination played a big part in Babb’s achievement, momentary as it was. But in interview after interview, the first thing he always did was give glory to God, noting his conviction that whether he ever basked in Buckeye glory or not, he still trusted in “Jesus Christ, my Lord, my Savior, my God,” as he states on his Instagram page.
Perseverance is a recurring theme in the Scriptures, stating it’s not an option but an integral part of life for everyone who follows Jesus. As Romans 5:2-3 tells us, “…we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
James 1:2-4 declares much the same, admonishing us, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
We might not be called by God to strive for athletic stardom or achieve public acclaim in some other endeavor. But in our walk with Christ, we are assured that if we are faithful to persevere, so that we will become “mature and complete, not lacking anything.” Not only that, but we never know who’s watching as we persevere, walking by faith.
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Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly published, ”Marketplace Ambassadors”; “Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace”; “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” A weekly business meditation he edits, “Monday Manna,” is translated into more than 20 languages and sent via email around the world by CBMC International. The address for his blog is www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com. His email address is email@example.com.