How can we persevere, maintain self-discipline in our mortal lives and grow in our faith?


We all face challenges in our daily lives. They may be related to health, our jobs, families, and other areas that are important to us. There are times when it seems that the challenges are raining down as a storm that won’t relent. Despite this, we know that we are not alone in our trials and suffering, and we understand that our brethren, and truly all men, women, and children struggle.

In Matthew 26:39-44, we see a very real human Jesus, praying to the Father to let the cup of suffering pass from Him. We read: He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, ‘O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.’Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, ‘What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.’ Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, ‘O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.’ And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy. So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.”

Jesus needed encouragement in what only He and the Father understood to be the beginning of the climax of His human life and His ministry. As is the case with each of us, Jesus was not eager to suffer the path that He knew lay ahead for Him in order to fulfill the plan of the Father. He asked, as we do, for help, for release, but unlike us on some or many occasions, Jesus was absolutely willing to accept the will of God the Father.

In verse 56 of Matthew 26, Jesus tells His followers and those who came to arrest Him that these actions were required. Consider His words: “But all this was done that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled…”

Jesus exemplifies the perseverance that the Father wants to see from us as we face the challenges that cannot ever compete with what Jesus confronted. This is not to say that enduring trials, hardships, pain, and suffering is easy.

In 2 Corinthians 1:3-6 we can see that God understands that we need His love and the comfort that only He can offer. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.”

If we remember how much that Jesus suffered for us, perhaps we can begin to see how we can endure to face our challenges and run towards God and away from sin. These moments of anxiety and pain may not be made less but considered in the context of the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ for us, our purpose becomes clearer.

The book of Hebrews is interesting in that it serves as an encouragement to the author’s brethren. While the identity of the author is not entirely clear, it has been our conclusion that it was Paul. He makes the case for all of us to live by faith in God and seek the perfection we can only achieve through Him. In Hebrews 12, “The Race of Faith,” and verses 1 and 2, we read: “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

How do we as humans incorporate these Scriptures in our lives? We start by working to build discipline in ourselves.

When we lift weights, we know that we do not begin with a 50-pound dumbbell, but we begin with lighter weight, and we steadily move towards our goal. We are striving for a certain degree of perfection in our physical condition. Though we never attain spiritual perfection in our mortal existence, we must work towards this on a pathway. We use discipline, we persevere, and we accept pain. As with the weights, we will have setbacks; but again, in context, true Christians can gain a deeper understanding of our purpose and move forward.

We recognize the discipline of the Father in these challenges. He is not necessarily punishing us, but refining us to become stronger in our faith, and more resilient in our daily lives—that we may live according to His commandments to persevere.  We are to renew our spiritual vitality, and as much as we exercise our bodies, we must strengthen our faith and obedience. In Hebrews 12:12-13, we are counseled accordingly: “Therefore, strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.”

In the Book of Jeremiah, chapter 29, we see how God used His prophet, Jeremiah, to deliver a message to the Israelites who were captive in Babylon and under the rule of Nebuchadnezzar. Surely, they were discouraged, and eager for deliverance, just as Jesus Christ was praying that night in the garden to be spared from the suffering awaiting Him. But just as the cup would not pass from our Savior, God told His people to settle in where He had caused them to be carried away captive. He did not want them to dwell on negative emotions or hostility, but to pray for their captors, and to live their lives and prosper. He wanted them to persevere, be disciplined, and be faithful so that they would eventually be restored to their land. Consider the words of verses 4 through 7: “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all who were carried away captive, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit. Take wives and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters—that you may be increased there, and not diminished. And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace.”

To answer our initial question: How do we as true Christians persevere and maintain our self-discipline in order to grow in our faith? We’ve considered several Scriptures that show us the pathway. We must always remember the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ and think of the love the Father has for Jesus and for each of us. We use this as our foundation to exercise our faith, study our Bible, lift our spiritual weights, and cling to our relationship with God our Father and Creator.

Lead Writer: Frank Bruno

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