by Bob Dees
As I was rolling up my parachute, the elderly Dutch woman grabbed me by the knees in a tight hug. With a translator, we learned her agitated words meant “We saw you coming. The eagle from the sky (referring to the Screaming Eagle shoulder patch). You saved my father!” (who had been apprehended by Nazis for possible execution on the same day). This was certainly a profound moment as I humbly received gratitude on behalf of my 101st ancestors from a grateful daughter 50 years after the 101st Airborne had liberated Eindhoven, Holland, and beyond. More importantly, consider the 101st soldiers who had parachuted into Holland on Operation Market Garden in September 1944. They had left their families behind to risk their lives on another continent – they were “all in.” This was not their first rodeo, merely a continuation of battle after battle.
To rewind the clock a bit, in June 1944 the “Screaming Eagles” landed by parachute and gliders in the dark of night behind the beaches at Normandy. They fought through France, liberated Holland with more daring airborne insertions, and bought critical time in the fateful Battle of the Bulge at Bastogne. Then they fought through Germany, ending up at Hitler’s Eagles Nest in southern Bavaria, and beyond by May 1945. This was PERSEVERANCE, a picture worth a thousand words. These heroic veterans were persistent and steadfast – one dusty, often bloody, boot in front of the other, again and again – saving lives, reuniting families, liberating nations, and unhinging the entire continent of Europe from the ravage of evil empires. What Resilient Warriors, what role models of courage, commitment, and PERSEVERANCE! Their WWII example was mirrored many times over by other storied Army units, as well as the valiant warriors of other Services of the military.
That was then, and a heroic time it was. TODAY in the COVID19 pandemic we also see heroism; we see amazing PERSEVERANCE, persistence, steadfastness in many Americans today. Peering through the face shields and masks of our healthcare providers and first responders in PPE, we see the same determination and PERSEVERANCE. Observing the selfless leadership of business owners who sacrifice salaries for their employees, or the many citizens who are reaching into their communities to provide for the hardest hit Americans; we see the same determination, the same PERSEVERANCE. These modern-day Resilient Warriors are also putting one boot in front of another, not giving up or slowing down until the job is done. They also have our great respect and appreciation.
The Bible illustrates PERSEVERANCE in many ways. Vines dictionary would describe it as “to continue steadfastly in a thing and give unremitting care to it.” The primary Greek word used for perseverance in the New Testament is pros (towards) kartereo (strength). This provides a great picture – while on an arduous journey (physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, relational), one is “moving towards strength.”
That’s it! To PERSEVERE, we move toward strength. We let strength pull us forward — BUT this must be God’s Strength!
- “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” ~Phillipians 4:13
- “’It is not by power or by might, but by My Spirit,’ saith the Lord.” ~Zechariah 4:6
What a powerful resilience tool – the sure knowledge that God is pulling you forward in HIS strength. Here are a few Biblical exhortations to PERSEVERE:
- (Persevere through health issues, suffering, and loss) “As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” ~James 5:11
- (Leaders who persevere in serving others) For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves (Gr- proskartereo again) to this very thing.” ~Romans 13:6
- (Perseverance in prayer for others) “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,” ~ Ephesians 6:18
As a final note, defining perseverance is not hard – we all have a feel for what it is. Acting with perseverance IS hard. As with resilience, we learn to persevere by persevering through increasingly tough challenges – getting stronger, more resolute, and more confident that “with God all things are possible.” May this be a reality for all of us – during this pandemic, through economic hardship, in spite of physical ailments, and moving over, under, around, and through anything else that opposes our call before God.
5How blessed is the man whose strength is in You,
In whose heart are the highways to Zion!
6Passing through the valley of Baca (weeping) they make it a spring;
The early rain also covers it with blessings.
7They go from strength to strength,
Every one of them appears before God in Zion.
May we go from strength to strength as we move towards Jesus.
This is Perseverance – God Style!
Respectfully in Christ,