You selected Dallas as your home campus. UNDO
Fort Worth is now hosted at
watermarkfortworth.org
You selected Frisco as your home campus. UNDO
You selected Plano as your home campus. UNDO
This page is hosted by the campus.
Your home campus is .

Perseverance

Are there any areas of your life that are difficult right now? Areas where you are tempted to throw in the towel and quit? As we continue our series, This is the Life, Tyler Briggs teaches us about perseverance and its importance in the midst of the trouble, hardship, and suffering of this world.

Tyler BriggsNov 10, 2019

Messages In This Series (13)
Thankfulness
Connor BaxterDec 1, 2019Frisco
Thankfulness
John ElmoreDec 1, 2019
Goodness
Todd WagnerNov 24, 2019
Perseverance
Tyler BriggsNov 10, 2019
Evangelism
Todd WagnerNov 3, 2019
Obedience
Blake HolmesOct 27, 2019
Respect
Adam TarnowOct 20, 2019
Peace
John ElmoreOct 13, 2019
Discernment
Todd WagnerOct 6, 2019
Contentment
David LeventhalSep 29, 2019
Courage
Todd WagnerSep 22, 2019
Righteousness: Part 2
Todd WagnerSep 15, 2019
Righteousness: Part 1
Todd WagnerSep 8, 2019

DISCUSSING AND APPLYING THE SERMON

Where in your life could you use (more) perseverance? Share this with your community group, and ask them to help you come up with a way you can trust the Lord in the midst of your trial.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • The book of Proverbs helps us apply divine wisdom to our daily lives.
  • In order to experience “the life” in the midst of the trouble, hardship, and suffering of this world, one character trait must be present: perseverance.
  • Without perseverance you will be frustrated with your circumstances, angry at God, and discouraged about your life...discouragement, despair, and depression will be a daily battle.
  • You persevere by trusting in God in the midst of trials.
  • Nobody has ever accidentally persevered. It’s an active, diligent pursuit of the Lord.
  • When we are going through hard times, our focus should not be on ourselves or on our circumstances, but on God.
  • You persevere with the support of community.
  • Who your community is matters. If you have bad community, not only will they not help, they will compound your problems.
  • You might be struggling to persevere because of the people around you. You need to change your playground and your playmates.
  • Community can’t be your substitute for personally pursuing God. We can’t look to community to do what only we can do for ourselves.
  • Jesus is the perfect example of perseverance.
  • God is not asking you to do or experience something that He didn’t.
  • When the cross was before Jesus, He prayed. When He was on the cross, He persevered.
  • Acknowledge that you need help to persevere. Trust in the Lord—know and apply His wisdom. Reach out to the right community for help. Look to the example of Jesus.

MENTIONED OR RECOMMENDED RESOURCES

Suggested Scripture study: Proverbs 16:25; Proverbs 24:10,16; Proverbs 18:10; Proverbs 4:4-6,20-23; Proverbs 7:1-3; Proverbs 18:1; Proverbs 24:5-6; Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; Proverbs 25:19; Hebrews 4:14-16
Real Truth Real Quick: If I Have Enough Faith Will God Heal Me?
Sermon: The Truth About Troubles and Trials
Sermon: How the Bible Preps Us for Perseverance

Good morning, Watermark. It's fun to be here with you this morning. If you are joining us as a guest, if you've never been here, if you're just visiting, a special welcome and thank you. We're encouraged that you would choose to spend your time with us this morning. It has been about a year since I've been over here at the Dallas Campus.

My name is Tyler Briggs, and I spend just about all of my time now out in Fort Worth at Watermark Fort Worth, serving there as the campus pastor, but my ministry leadership started here in Dallas, going through the Institute back in 2012 and 2013, and it's always fun to come back and visit. I say "visit" very purposely, because as we like to say out in Fort Worth, life is just too short to actually live in Dallas, if you know what I mean. Truth may sound like hate to those who hate the truth, but you know that if you could, you'd come out west.

Hey, you could, because I want to make sure everybody knows that in just a few months, the ministry of Watermark is going to be multiplying as the Fort Worth Campus gets launched out to be an independent local church, to continue to pass on what has been invested in us through Watermark, through the time, through the resources, through the investment in discipleship into our staff and into our body as we become an independent local church in Fort Worth.

We couldn't be more excited about it and are grateful for all of the ways you have partnered with us in that ministry out there. So I just want to say "thank you" for that. I get to bring us back into or continue us forward in the series we've been in for the past little while called This Is the Life. We're looking specifically at the book of Proverbs. Why the book of Proverbs? I heard it summed up well in something I was reading.

The book of Proverbs is about applying divine wisdom to daily life. It's a book where God is instructing you, as a loving Father who wants to see life go well with you, in ways that you can begin to navigate life with skill, with wisdom, and it's not a wisdom that comes from yourself but comes from him. So we're excited to dive back into that. I want to start by asking you a question. Have you noticed that life has not turned out to be quite as easy as you thought it was going to be?

Here's what I mean. We think life is going to be like a beautiful day at the beach, where we get there, and the weather is perfect. If you have kids and they're there, they're well behaved. It's mild weather. The day goes well. Nobody throws a tantrum. It's just amazing. Nobody gets a sunburn, and you just enjoy your time together. You go home singing songs together in the car with your friends, and you get home, and you sleep really, really well at the end of the day. It's just perfect.

Then what we think life is going to be like in that way is we're going to get accepted into whatever college we want to go to. We apply and we're in. Or you're going to get married to the man or woman of your dreams and have an amazing marriage, and you're going to buy a house in Richardson or Arlington Heights, if you're over in Fort Worth. As you start your career, you're going to get promoted to that executive role in your late 20s and be financially free by the time you're 30. (All of the Gen-Xers were laughing at that last statement.)

You're going to have with your spouse two well-behaved, perfectly obedient, respectful children. You're going to get a dog that never pees on the carpet, and it's going to be amazing. Then you're going to have, as you get older, four grandkids who all live in the same town so you can enjoy family dinners together but then send them home when you're done with them.

You're going to retire in your 50s, travel the world, and when your time is done, you're going to die peacefully in your sleep, having never experienced any real pain or suffering in your life. It's like a perfect day at the beach. Everything is going to go as planned. But it turns out, as we all know, that's not the kind of day at the beach that life actually is. It's really more like this.

[Video]

Laugh or cry. That's the reality of life in this world. We plan for things to be some way in life, and then not just one wave but wave after wave of hardship comes and knocks us down. Instead of going to the college of our dreams, we end up going to the local community college or a trade school while the rest of our friends go to Texas A&M University. Instead of getting into that perfect marriage, you're still single in your 40s, in your 50s, or you get that marriage, but it hasn't turned out quite as you thought, and it is really, really hard, or maybe it has even ended in divorce, and it wasn't what you had planned.

Instead of having those perfect kids, you're walking through infertility or miscarriage, and you're experiencing the grief and trial and trouble that comes with each of those, or you have kids, but they're just struggling, either physically or educationally, and things just aren't going well for them or, as they get older, maybe they're just prodigals. They're running from you, and they're running from the Lord, and as a parent, your home doesn't have the joy you thought it would as your child runs and makes bad decisions.

That job you thought was going to be so perfect? You've lost it, and you're unemployed. That company you built? You're staring at bankruptcy in the face. Or as you get older, instead of retiring in your 50s and traveling the world, you're dealing with chronic illness or other things that are slowing you down, and on top of all that, you realize that temptation to run from the Lord is ever-present and that even when you're walking in faithfulness, you're experiencing persecution for what you believe.

We realize that life is hard, but we shouldn't be surprised by that, because Jesus himself told us that in this world we will have trouble, but there's hope for you. There's hope for all of us in this room, because God knew things were going to be this way. He didn't leave us without wisdom on how to navigate hardship in life, but he gave us wisdom specifically on how to persevere in life.

So today, as we continue in the This Is the Life series, we're going to be addressing what may be the most important character trait we're going to cover, which is the character trait of perseverance. How to overcome… Not escape, but how to overcome your circumstances instead of being overcome by them. This is why this is important, and we can show this really quickly.

By show of hands in this room, how many of you right now are experiencing something difficult in life? Just about everybody in the room. The truth is hardship is universal. We're all going to experience it to different degrees, but none of us in this room are going to escape it. If you don't understand how to persevere, truly how to persevere, you're going to daily live with discouragement, despair, depression, and defeat, and life is not going to be well for you.

If we do understand how to persevere, if we take heed to God's wisdom for us, we will be able to overcome our circumstances, even when we continue to walk in the midst of them, and to persevere. So this morning, we're going to look at three things. We're going to look at from the book of Proverbs, primarily, how you persevere, the support to persevere, and the perfect example of perseverance.

I want you to understand what perseverance is not. It's not, specifically, two things. Perseverance is not passive. It's not just looking at your circumstances and saying, "Okay, I'm not going to be frustrated by that. I'm just going to surrender and give in and just kind of live with it." That is not perseverance at all. Actually, if you're going to persevere, if you're going to rise above your circumstances and experience joy and hope in the midst of them, it requires that you do something.

Proverbs 24:10 says, "If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small." You can't just surrender. You have to do something. Proverbs 24:16 then says, "…the righteous falls seven times and rises again [no matter how many waves come] , but the wicked stumble in times of calamity [and get knocked down] ." When adversity or trial comes, you must do something, but then there's a temptation.

Because in order to persevere I have to do something, you think you just have to muster up the might in and of yourself to overcome your circumstances; you have to apply what we would call bootstrap theology over in Fort Worth, which means you just man up and deal with it. That's also going to lead to a poor outcome. That's also going to leave you defeated.

Proverbs 16:18 says, "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall." Proverbs 16:25 would say, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death." I grew up in a family of amazing men, but at the same time, if there's one thing, if there's one trait that can tend to plague most of the men in my family it's that we think in order to be strong men we can't show weakness. Pride is something that runs thick in my family.

What that means is when trials come, we feel like we do have to look in and of ourselves, we have to find our own strength, we have to apply our own wisdom to get through difficult times. There is a pattern of destruction in my family's life because of pride, because the men in my family are trying to persevere in and of our own strength, but perseverance does not come from strength inside yourself but from somewhere else. So where does it come from?

1 . You persevere by trusting God in the midst of trials. You're probably like, "Oh, wow! New profound truth." I don't think so, because it's probably not new to you, but also, we can tend when we hear we have to trust God in this… We have this general picture of "Hey, I'm just going to trust God, and it's this easy thing to do." Whenever you're not going through something hard, it's kind of easy to say that, but when you're in the throes of hardship, you realize that trust, that faith takes a lot of effort and also that you'd better have faith in the right place.

Proverbs speaks on this in a couple of different passages. Actually, over 20, but I've picked a few. Proverbs 10:25 says, "When the whirlwind passes, the wicked is no more, but the righteous has an everlasting foundation." The righteous has built their life upon trust in something. What is that? Proverbs 18:10 says the name of the Lord is a strong tower, and the righteous man doesn't just know that but runs into the presence of God himself when trouble comes and is safe.

So we run into God's presence. We don't just know things about God but we run directly to him, and by running to him we're not just saying we're trusting; we're actually acting in faith as we move toward him to trust him with all that we have. We don't just trust in him; we trust in his words, we trust in his promises. Over and over and over again in Proverbs, it gives us these very strong words, full of imagery about what it means to truly, diligently, with faith, trust in the word of the Lord.

In Proverbs 4:4-6 it says, "…he taught me and said to me, 'Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live. Get wisdom; get insight; do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will keep you…'" She will help you persevere. "…love her, and she will guard you."

We can glance over these types of passages so quickly but not understand, truly, the type of effort and diligence that we're to pursue and hold our faith in the word of the Lord. I saw a video a few weeks ago that really helped me capture the intensity of what it means to trust and to hold fast to God and his promises. It was a video of a man in Scotland who was going paragliding for the very first time. It's like a 3-1/2-minute video. You should go look it up. It is crazy.

He was really excited. He got an instructor to help him because he'd never done it before, which is wise, except for one thing. The instructor and this guy forgot to actually clip himself into the paraglider. So very quickly, after jumping off the side of this hill, he realizes he has a real problem, that the only thing connecting him to this paraglider are his hands.

The instructor realizes what's going wrong, and he's trying to get this glider down to the ground, but because of the updraft, they keep getting higher and higher and higher. This brother knows he has two options: to hold fast to that bar or to die. As he gets to the end of the video and lands, he talks about what happened during that flight. It says that he held on so tightly and he was so tired his bicep tendon ripped in half, but he didn't let go.

Why didn't he let go? Why did he work so hard to hold on to that bar? Because he knew that life, his ability to overcome that circumstance, was only going to happen through one thing: to hold tight. In the same way, many of you in this room are going through one of the things I mentioned earlier, one of those hardships, one of those waves in life that could knock you down, or any number of other things.

You're trying really, really hard to overcome, to persevere, and you're not. I want to gently encourage you to look at what you are holding on to, because if it's not to the Lord, with intensity and fervor, if it's not to his promises, it's not going to go well with you. But if you are and if you continue to do so, there's a promise that you will find life, you will live as you cling to him.

A couple of other proverbs that hit this same point. Proverb 4:20-23 uses similar language. "My son, be [consciously] attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life."

Proverbs 7:1-3: "My son, keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you; keep my commandments and live; keep my teaching as the apple of your eye; bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart." I love the imagery of that phrase: keep them as the apple of your eye, which means, essentially, that as you focus on the Lord himself and what he has promised you, on what is true, on the wisdom he has given you, everything else seems to disappear.

I'll use a cultural example of love to make my point here. If you've ever fallen in love, you know what it means to keep something as the apple of your eye. I remember when I fell in love with my wife. It was 16 years ago. It was the first time I'd ever met her. It was at Dixie Dance Hall in Beaumont, Texas, the day before Thanksgiving, 2003. Guys, if you remember things like that, it builds credit with your wife.

I went out there. I was like, "There's this beautiful brunette. I have to get to know her. I have to meet her." So we were talking. It was the day before Thanksgiving. I said, "Hey, what are you doing for Thanksgiving?" and she said, "I'm leaving tomorrow to go to the hunting lease with my dad." And I got down on one knee. I just closed the deal right there. Not really, that part, but that was the beginning of me having Lindsay Renee Brown, now Briggs, as the apple of my eye, and all of my other circumstances in life just kind of went away.

When you love the Lord and trust him and begin to make him the apple of your eye, the very center of the thing which your life, your eyes, your heart, your trust is fixated on, everything else starts to not disappear and go away from your life but not take center stage to rob your joy and to rob your hope. So you cling to him. Specifically, if you don't set your heart and your mind to persevere, you won't. There's no other way around it. Perseverance takes work. It takes effort, but it's not an activity. It's not the effort of being busy; it's the effort of abiding.

When we go to persevere, we can't mistake activity for abiding. The hard work we have to do is knowing what is true about the Lord and then believing it. So, what are some of these truths that we would hold so tightly to so we wouldn't be overcome? It's the truth that you know God loves you. How do you know that? Because he demonstrates his love for you in this: that while you were still a sinner, while you were yet his enemy, he died for you.

We know God causes all things to work for good for those who love him, who are called according to his purpose, and that these sufferings we experience today are but light and momentary afflictions that, as we endure them, are producing in us a weight of glory that will last for all eternity, and that God is using them for our good.

So when we encounter trials of any kind, we can count it all joy, knowing the testing of our faith produces endurance and that testing is going to make us perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. Also, we know that if we are in Christ, there is an eternity coming for us where we will live directly in the presence of God forever, in whose presence there is fullness of joy and in whose right hand there are pleasures forevermore.

We're going to be in a place where there's no more pain and no more tears and no more suffering and no more hardship. So we live today and persevere, and we live for Christ and glorify him in our sufferings, knowing that even if our hardship today takes us completely out, that's okay, because then our hardship is over. So we endure. We hold fast to these truths and these promises, and we overcome.

But perseverance isn't something you should do completely solo. It's really hard to persevere completely on your own. Yes, perseverance is your personal, diligent pursuit of God, your personal trusting in him, but also, to persevere well, you need to persevere with the support of community. That's my second point this morning.

2 . You persevere with the support of community. Proverbs has a lot to say about community. Here are a couple of verses. Proverbs 18:1 says, "Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment." He says it is unwise to try to do life on your own. Essentially, you are a fool if you're trying to do this by yourself.

Proverbs 24:5-6: "A wise man is full of strength, and a man of knowledge enhances his might, for by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory." Solomon, who wrote most of the book of Proverbs, also wrote the book of Ecclesiastes, and he includes this in chapter 4, verses 9-12:

"Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken."

Simply put, community helps give you the strength to endure, helps give you the strength to persevere, and if you don't have community in your life, perseverance is only going to be an aspiration for you. It's going to be next to impossible for you to endure and persevere on your own. Community lifts us up when we're down.

Just a little over a year ago, my wife and I found ourselves in a place we didn't want to be, as we were in the emergency room of Harris Hospital in downtown Fort Worth, as my wife was going through a miscarriage, as we were losing our child at nine weeks and five days in the womb. It's in those moments when the reality of how hard it is to hold fast to truth, to remember truth, really sets in, but I'm thankful that in that moment we weren't alone in that room.

A friend of ours, Stacey Robbins, was bedside with my wife, holding on to her hand, pointing us toward the Lord, pointing us toward what is true, that even though we might not understand what God was doing in this moment, we could trust him, because we've seen his love for us, ultimately in Jesus Christ but in so many other ways throughout our lives, and we could be confident that he was going to take this tragedy and use it for good in our lives and in the lives of others.

She prayed, and she strengthened us and helped us persevere and endure through something that I don't know we could have done in the way we did apart from the help of community. Then upon coming home, pulling into our driveway, Jody Walker in our driveway with melted ice cream and a bouquet of flowers and sweet words of truth of reminder for us. We couldn't have done it on our own, and you can't either.

As community matters, as we persevere with the support of community, who your community is matters. It's not just about having people around you; it's about having the right people around you. Some of you are having a really hard time persevering because, quite frankly, you have the wrong people in your life. Instead of them helping you to persevere, they're only compounding your problems, because they're not pointing you to where real help is found.

Proverbs 25:19 says, "Trusting in a treacherous man in time of trouble is like a bad tooth or a foot that slips." I love this. Have you ever had a bad tooth? I have one back here on the top side of the left side of my mouth. It had a filling in it, and it fell out one time, so I had this exposed nerve. I don't go to the dentist as much as I should. Confession. So how I dealt with it was I just chewed on the right side of my mouth. Problem solved, and it was cheaper.

I kind of got used to it and forgot that I had an issue over there. There was a day where I had some beef jerky I was eating, and I took a big ol' bite of beef jerky, and then I rolled it over to that left side of my mouth, trusting that that tooth was going to get the job done, and it didn't. When I bit down, pain shot all the way across the entire side of my face, and things were worse than ever before.

In the same way, if you have people in your life who are not godly, who are not pointing you to the Lord, they are not going to help you overcome the pain of your circumstances; they're going to increase it, because they're going to be pointing you to things that don't bring help but bring harm. So you have to be careful and be wise about who your community is. "Those who walk with the wise will become wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm."

How do you know if you have good community? You simply look at where they're pointing you. Are they pointing you just to have a few drinks, just to kind of check out for a moment and unplug and kind of numb the pain you're in? Are they telling you, "You just need to get away. Just take a vacation. You just have to get away from all of this. Escape from your problems. That'll make it better."

Or maybe they're saying, "Look. It really doesn't matter what decision you make here. Just do whatever makes you happy. Whatever that button is that you can hit, whatever that choice is that you can make, whatever it is that's going to make you happy, just do that." Those are the kinds of people who are not going to help you persevere. They're going to make your life worse. The kind of community you need in your life are people who point you to one place and one place alone, which is to the Lord, to Jesus Christ, who can help you through any and every circumstance.

A second warning I have for you about community, before we move on to something else, is for those of us who are in community here at Watermark. It's our middle name, after all. We know how important it is, but when you are going through a hard time, there is a grievous mistake you can make: if you begin to look at your community as a substitute for your personal communing with the Father, if you begin to look to community as a substitute for your own walk and your own faith and your own trusting in Jesus Christ.

It doesn't matter how much they're pointing you to the truth. You're not going to persevere, because you're asking them to do for you what only you can do for yourself, which is to personally trust in Christ. Your Community Group can't trust God for you. They can't pursue what is true for you. They can't hold fast to God's promises for you. Only you can do that. So, yes, you do need the help of godly community to persevere, but they can't be your everything.

There's one thing only you can do, which is to personally trust in the Lord for yourself, in his wisdom and in his ways. There are a couple of friends of mine who I've gotten to walk with over the past several years who have been an inspiration to many in the way they have walked through a really, really hard season with such faith and such joy and such hope when the world would say they shouldn't have any. I want you to be encouraged by their story. Watch this.

[Video]

Erin Cartrite: I'm Erin Cartrite.

Todd Cartrite: I'm Todd Cartrite.

Erin: We met at Watermark Fort Worth in 2014, and then we were married in May of 2017, and then we had our first daughter, Georgia Quinn, in August of 2018. Then two months after she was born, through a series of events, she was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, which is a cancerous tumor of the adrenal gland that had eventually spread to her liver.

Initially, obviously, we were pretty shocked. It felt surreal that we were taking our newborn to the oncology unit of Cook Children's. I was panicked at first. I thought I was spending my last moments with my daughter, and I was pretty fearful and confused.

Todd: In these chaotic moments, how do you bring order to that? So I just relied on Christ to strengthen me in that moment to love people around us, encourage them, and encourage my wife.

Erin: She's coming out of surgery, and she has all these tubes coming off of her, and her voice is raspy from the breathing tube they just removed, and she's groggy coming out of anesthesia, and this is your 2-month-old. It was shocking and really easy for me to lose my temper and want to lash out. It was extremely frustrating, and it was an extremely stressful time. Just high-stress moments where everything was urgent and everything mattered in the midst of me feeling shocked and grieved at what I was seeing and experiencing.

So in these moments, I had to have the truth of the Suffering Servant in the gospel, because that is the only person I could look to who I knew understood what I was thinking and feeling in that moment. I knew Jesus was the only person I could follow through that. If he suffered the way he did, then, okay, I will follow him through this suffering. I, too, will suffer. So I could trust that in this moment, as broken as it felt, as much as I was suffering, I could trust that something in this was going to bring wholeness.

This was going to be redeemed. God was going to use this for a good and perfect plan, even if I couldn't see it in that moment. So that brought me a lot of hope, because I could trust the fact that even if I lost my daughter, it was not outside of God's sovereign plan for her life and she would not have lost one day that he didn't plan. Every single day he had planned for her would be lived, so I knew I could trust that.

Todd: It was a really easy choice for us to say, "We want to honor God through this." God really showed up through the body of believers that were around us, the encouragement, the prayers. Not just saying, "Oh, she's going to get through this. She's going to come through on the other end," but just saying, "We cannot promise tomorrow, but what we can do today is pray, and we know God is faithful, and whatever his plan is, his name will be glorified."

Erin: The cancer cells in her liver are continuing to regress. They're still there, but it has shrunk significantly, and her body is now fighting off the cancer on its own. We go back every now and then to see her oncologist and to get some scans done. Scan days are still pretty tough. They're all day. There's anesthesia involved. There are IVs, and the older she gets, the less she's willing to tolerate a lot of this. So it's still pretty stressful.

This truth was not just applicable in that really intense time. Even whenever we have just normal parenting situations, where Georgia gets a stomach bug or a diaper rash or she's throwing a temper tantrum because she refuses to wear shoes these days, this truth is still something that is, first, easy to forget but is what we look to and what we hold on to, because that is the point of all of this. That's the point of this testimony.

That's the point of anything we could garner from this season: to point to God and to make him known, because he is holy, and he is brilliant, and he is kind, and he is in control, and he can be trusted. So I do have a greater understanding of what it means to point to God in every season of life and to make it about him and to believe the gospel and have that become rooted in me more and more and to trust that any circumstance, any trial, any temper tantrum or surgery is not the end but that because of the gospel, eternity is the end.

[End of video]

Thank you, Todd and Erin. I pray that their story encourages you. I don't know what you're going through. When you raised your hand earlier, I don't know what that difficulty was, but if there's a reason not to have hope, it's to have your newborn child be diagnosed with cancer and connected to tubes and surgeries and treatments. If God can provide hope and joy and the strength to persevere for Todd and Erin, he can provide it for you. I promise you he can provide it for you.

I love their story, how they talk about holding fast to the promises of God, being supported by the community that's around them, but probably the most strengthening part of their story is when Erin starts talking about looking at the Suffering Servant, our Savior Jesus Christ. It would be a miss this morning not to close this message by pointing you to the same place that she looked, which was to Jesus Christ as our example.

3 . Jesus Christ is the perfect example of perseverance. One of the things that frustrated me for quite a while was that God is transcendent. He's above all this. I didn't know why he would let people experience the things he lets them experience here on this earth and the brokenness of this world while yet he sits in the heavens apart from it all, but I couldn't have had a bigger misconception of what the truth was. See, God is not allowing you to experience anything that he himself has not experienced. In Hebrews 4:14-16, it says:

"Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin." He never stopped trusting. "Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."

Jesus experienced to a greater degree anything we may experience on this earth, yet he trusted God through the midst of it all, and for everything we've talked about this morning, he himself demonstrated it for us. If we look to the wilderness temptation, when repeatedly the Enemy tempted Jesus to forgo God's plan, he held fast to God's Word, and he quotes from the book of Deuteronomy repeatedly and overcomes the temptation.

When he's in the garden of Gethsemane and the weight of God's wrath being stored up to be poured out on him at the cross was bearing down on him, what did he do? He ran to the Father, and he prayed, and he stayed in line with the will of God for his life, and then when he was on the cross and the moment had come for his body to be given fully up for you, he again trusted in God.

He trusted in the Father, and he didn't come down, yet he wasn't spared from the torture of the crucifixion, from the pain of the cross. In fact, it took his life, but he persevered in trusting God, and God used that act of evil for the greatest thing that has ever been known to man, which is the opportunity for salvation for all who believe in the name of Jesus Christ. It's through belief in who Jesus is and what he did on your behalf that you can now come boldly with confidence into God's very presence to be strengthened for whatever you're going through.

So I pray this morning that as we look at this attribute of perseverance, you would indeed understand that perseverance is not just a passive look at God or at his Word but an intense pursuit to hold fast to the Lord himself and to what is true. It's a reaching out to community for support and for help, and then a fixing of your eyes on Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of your faith, to be strengthened to overcome whatever you're going through, and you will persevere. Let me pray for you.

Father, we thank you that you do love us. We thank you that you don't ask us to navigate this troublesome, hard life on our own, but you've given us an example in Jesus Christ. You've given us your Holy Spirit to empower us, to give us the strength to overcome, to endure, to persevere, and I pray we would cling to that.

I pray what Isaiah said, that we would remember, God, that you are the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth, and that you never faint or grow weary, that you understand all things, that your ways are higher than our ways, that you give power to the weak, that you give comfort to the hurting, that you give strength to those who have none.

God, may we remember that even though youth on this earth will grow weary and strong men will fall exhausted in the midst of trials, any of those who wait for you will find renewal of their strength, that they will rise up with wings like eagles, that they will run this race of life with endurance, that they will not grow weary, for you, God, are our strength.

May we run to you, and may we remember and know that when we hold fast to you, God, you have promised to hold fast to us. May nothing keep us from coming to you. May we take heed your words, and may we run with confidence to you, to your very presence, to find mercy and grace to help us in our time of need. We love you, we thank you, and it's in Jesus' name we pray, amen.