Several years ago I asked a friend how things were going and if he had gotten a job, since I knew that he had been searching for one. In the course of our conversation he informed me that he had landed a job with a certain company. I was surprised and asked him how he had managed to get a job there, since it was very difficult to get in.
He relayed to me that he showed up there on Monday morning at 8:00 am and asked to talk to the Personnel Manager. After an introduction and laying out his qualifications and desire to work for the company, he was told by the Manager that there were no openings at that time. On Tuesday morning, at 8:00 am, he showed up again and asked to see the Personnel Manager who was quick to ask him why he had returned. My friend told him that he wanted to get a job there. The Manager responded that he had already explained to him the previous day that there were no openings at that time.
On Wednesday, my friend showed up again at 8:00 am and asked to see the Personnel Manager. The Manager told him once more that they had no openings. On Thursday, at 8:00 am, my friend showed up again. The Manager took one look at him and said: “Just report for work tomorrow at 8:00 am.”
“So that’s how I got the job there,” my friend told me. “I guess, my persistence paid off.”
Indeed it had. Persistence can be described as an ongoing effort and action in spite of opposition, obstacles, set-backs, rejection or discouragement.
The concept of persistence can be found in the Bible. For instance, Christ gave the following parable of the widow and the unjust judge in Luke 18:1-8:
“And He also spoke a parable to them to teach it is always right to pray, and not to faint, saying, A certain judge was in a certain city, not fearing God, nor respecting man. And a widow was in that city. And she came to Him, saying, Avenge me of my adversary. And he would not do so for a time. But afterward he said within himself, Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me, I will avenge her, that she not wear me down in the end. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge says. And shall not God avenge His own elect who cry day and night to Him, though He has been long-suffering over them? I say to you that He will avenge them speedily. Yet when the Son of Man comes, shall He find faith on the earth?”
The admonition is clear. We are not to throw in the towel if we are rejected the first time. We need to keep seeking, asking and knocking.
Perhaps God is really testing our persistence when we ask for something and do not receive an immediate response. What should we do? We should keep asking until we obtain what we have requested or until it is clearly revealed to us, for instance through obvious circumstances, that God’s answer in a particular situation is “No.”
Paul asked God to be healed. He might have suffered from an eye problem or even from malaria, as some commentators suggest. Did he quit after his first request was not answered in the way Paul had expected? No. He asked three times–apparently being anointed three times–until God’s answer was, “My grace is sufficient for you.” Paul clearly realized, after his third request, that God would not heal him in this life, and Paul accepted and even gladly submitted to God’s Will.
Sometimes we are asked to pray for an individual who is suffering from a sickness or who has a different serious problem. Do we quit praying after a few days, or do we continue until the person is healed or his problem is solved, or particular circumstances clearly reveal that God’s Will is different than what we were praying for?
Christ gives this promise to the Philadelphia church: “Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth” (Revelation 3:10).
Paul encourages us in Ephesians 6:18-19 to pray “always with all prayer and supplication in the spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints, and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel…”
God commands us to be persistent and to persevere–just like the unjust judge who granted the widow her request and the Personnel Manager who gave my friend his job. They obtained what they desired because they would not give up.
How persistent are you?