Perseverance – When the Going Gets Tough

Preached on June 23, 2024

When the going gets tough, there are one or two things you can do – push through or give up. If you fight, you must make sure you’re fighting in a manner to win. Join Pastor McCrary as he continues to preach to a generation that needs to return to God in order to endure.

Introduction

We are doing battle on a spiritual battlefield that is a horrible pit filled with miry clay.  No matter how much you try, you won’t be able to climb out of it by our own power and strength.  That doesn’t stop today’s generation from trying and losing! So, what do you do when the going gets tough? 

In today’s sermon, I am going to take a look at the need to add perseverance to your faith.  God has assured us that there are steps that we can take in order to make it out of the horrible pit. 

Add Perseverance to Your Faith

In 2 Peter 1:5-6, Peter wrote that believers should always continue to grow in their faith.  We have seen that we should add virtue, knowledge, and self-control to our faith so that we aren’t overcome and defeated by sin.  

So, as we continue to grow in our faith, Peter encouraged us believers to add perseverance to our faith.  Perseverance is the continued effort to achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition.  In other words, perseverance is being able to endure or to be steadfast in whatever you are going through.

Facing a desperate enemy

So, we should certainly look to persevere.  The reason why is because while life is filled with good days, we are still on a spiritual battlefield.  On this battlefield, we face an adversary that does not believe in letting up.  In fact, the adversary we face is growing more and more desperate to defeat us in his attacks.

Our adversary lies and schemes with flattering words in his desperation to make us doubt what we know.  When he is unable to make us doubt the truth, he desperately moves against us by attacking our emotions.  Such attacks are done in order to weaken us so that he can take control of our thoughts and our actions (Eph. 4:26-27).  Many have succumbed to these attacks and are now vessels of his— we must not succumb!

When we don’t succumb to the attacks on the truth, our mental, and emotional, our enemy moves to his next attack – he will afflict us with great afflictions.  I think of the testing of Job through all the afflictions he had to endure.  Recently, in our Sunday School, we have seen Naomi and Ruth have to battle through famine and the loss of loved ones.  Joseph was a man that was betrayed by his own brothers and sold into slavery.  Elijah was a man that suffered from loneliness because Ahab and Jezebel sought to destroy God’s prophets.

These are all people we find in scripture that were up against the wall in their afflictions.  They had to find the means to persevere when the going got tough for them.  If they did not find the means to persevere, they would have all fallen into defeat on the battlefield.  What do you do when the going gets tough?

In a Horrible Pit of Miry Clay

I want to focus on King David in my message for today as David was another one who had to persevere in his life or else.  In my key verse, you will see David singing about how he was once in a horrible pit of miry clay.  The horrible pit that David sang about was a metaphor about all he had seen and gone through in his life.

David’s horrible pit

We should remember that David was a warrior from the time he was considered ruddy (youthful)— a shepherd boy versus Goliath (1 Sam. 16:12)!  If you don’t remember, David couldn’t even wear the armor that Saul gave him before he went to defeat Goliath (1 Sam. 17:38-39)!  

As a warrior he had to deal with the Philistines, but also had another adversary that despised him more than the Philistines.  Saul began to hate David with every fiber in his bones and sought his life!  Saul’s threat was so great that David had to live on the run from him until Saul’s death.

None of us can forget about David’s great sin with Bathsheba which led to the death of Uriah the Hittite (2 Sam. 11:1-17).  You see, there was a great consequence David suffered due to his lustful sin.  The first son born through Bathsheba died before they could even name him.  

Down the line, Absalom, another son of David, raised himself against David in treason.  David was forced to flee Jerusalem because of Absalom’s treason (2 Sam. 15:13-14).  Eventually, Absalom was killed in battle, against David’s orders, and his death sent David spiraling into deep mourning (2 Sam. 18:9-15, 33).  

The location of today’s battlefield

Whether you realize it or not, we are doing battle on a battlefield that’s in a pit or miry clay.  David faced Goliath— we all have our Goliaths that we face in life.  For me, one of my Goliaths, though I’ve received a transplant, is still dealing with having suffered kidney failure.  All of us have our Goliaths that we face, sometimes, on a daily basis.

David had to deal with Saul— you better believe we have our own Sauls that greatly despise us and seek to bring the worst out of us or destroy us.  How do you deal with them?  Today’s generation is quick to give its Sauls what they desire – it answers hate with hate!  But then we are left with the guilt of our wrongdoing that today’s generation either shrugs off or struggles to deal with.

David had his great sin with Bathsheba which was the result of him giving into lust and temptation.  Sin tempts all of us on a daily basis and there are several times where we surrender to temptation.  Many in today’s generation shrug off giving in to temptation.  The rest of us may struggle with temptation and the weight of such sin can crush us.

Now, though he was once in a horrible pit of miry clay, we see that David was rejoicing and singing praises of thanksgiving.  David was singing praises for overcoming the pit and not being stuck in it!  How did he persevere and get out of that pit?  Did he do it by his own power and strength?  No.  

David said that he cried out to the Lord and waited patiently on Him.  God then lifted him out of that horrible pit and set his feet on solid ground!  David sang praises to God because God was the reason he persevered!  Do you believe that God can help you persevere and overcome your pit?

How to Overcome the Testing of Difficult Days

Now, some love being in a horrible pit and don’t bother trying to get out while the rest of us want out!  We are going to take some knockout blows on this battlefield but the key is whether or not we will stay down or get back up. Try as hard as you can to climb out on your own, and I tell you that you will just slip back down into the pit.    

I want you to understand that your power and strength is simply not enough for you to overcome on this battlefield.   You will need help to make it out of your pit!  Do you know the help that you need in order to get out of the pit?  Let’s take a look at some steps that can help you persevere when the going gets tough.

Patience when the going gets tough

In last week’s sermon, we saw that in order for us to take control of our thoughts and actions, we must learn to be patient.  This week, I tell you that patience is once again a key to perseverance.

Let’s notice that in Psalm 40:4, David said, “Blessed is that man who makes the Lord his trust.  Trusting in the Lord requires you to patiently wait on His providence and deliverance.  Isaiah said that the Lord is a God of justice and those who wait on Him are blessed (Is. 30:18).  

However, as I said last week, today’s generation is a generation that is always in a rush.  Rather than waiting on God’s help, today’s generation goes ahead of Him.  Rather than waiting on God’s providence, today’s generation rushes to gather riches.  Such a rush often ends up in heartache and a lack of happiness— trouble.

Again, one must learn to wait on the Lord!  Waiting patiently on the Lord should not be confused with sitting around and doing nothing!  Patience is moving, but moving by faith with complete trust in God’s providence and deliverance.  

As James pointed out, such trust will be built up over time through your trials and tribulations (Jas. 1:3).  Yes, you are going to have trials and tribulations!  As Jesus said Himself, “In the world you will have tribulation.”  However, Jesus added on to that statement that we should “be of good cheer” because He has overcome the world (John 16:33).

David rejoiced because he waited on the Lord.  Because he learned to wait on God, David realized how wonderful God’s works are and how innumerable God’s thoughts had to be Psalm 40:5.  Such a revelation can only come through patient observation through many trials and tribulations.  

You see, David learned what we must learn and believe in— if God did it once, He will do it again!  Such patience builds up to a faith that Paul said is grounded and steadfast— it cannot be moved from the hope of the gospel (Col. 1:23)!  Christ – our hope – is the rock of courage you should stand firmly on no matter how difficult things get!  Jesus is a rock that will not crumble nor will it roll when the going gets tough – He will help you persevere!

Have the sheer will to push through

If you continue to push forward by faith, you will eventually experience a change in your mindset and your will to endure will go stronger.  Being able to persevere also relies on having the sheer will to endure!  

Do you have the willpower to persevere when the going gets tough?  I want to remind you what Paul wrote in his second letter to Timothy:  “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Tim. 1:7).”  

Again, I worry about the mindset of today’s generation!  Why?  Because it is constantly fed with fear.  Many are living in great fear today.

A spirit of fear is a spirit that seeks to create doubt about what can be done; it can paralyze you from moving in faith.  Therefore, the spirit of fear can become a spirit of defeat – it has lost the willpower to push forward.  This is a spirit that is simply waiting to be consumed by the pit.

This is why those souls that are in grief, sorrow, and deep depression must be constantly encouraged to move.  This is why those with a spirit of doubt need much encouragement.  What is that word of encouragement?  You must remember that you can do all things through Christ (Phil. 4:13).

In all of your trials and tribulations, you are not alone on this battlefield.  Christ, you should understand, is by your side to lend you the strength and power you need to make it through.  Satan will do his very best to make you doubt God is with you but remember that the Lord said He will never leave nor forsake you (Deut. 31:8)!  God being with you is the power you need to keep willing yourself forward through all your tribulations.

By God’s grace and mercy

Let’s also notice that David prayed to God, “Do not withhold Your tender mercies from me.”  He prayed, “Let Your lovingkindness and Your truth continually preserve me (Ps. 40:11).”  Do you understand why David made this prayer?

A big part of the battles we face is our sin.  As I said before, the guilt of David’s sin nearly crushed him.  In Psalm 40:12, David said that he had been surrounded by “innumerable evils.”  His iniquities had even overtaken him to the point that he couldn’t lift up his head and he felt that his heart began to fail him (Ps. 40:12).  

So, not to suffer defeat, David had to pray!  David prayed!  David prayed for the Lord to restore the joy of his salvation (Ps. 51:8, 12).  David said that the Lord inclined His ear and lifted him out of the pit!

The guilt of our wrongdoing can also weigh very heavily on our soul – so much so that it can become hard for us to move and breathe.  For us to overcome our sin and be lifted up, we need God’s grace and mercy!  God is both faithful and just to cleanse us from all unrighteousness and to lift us up if we make our confession known (1 John 1:9)!  

Jesus has made it very clear that when we are heavy laden in our soul, we should go to Him (Matt. 11:28).  God’s grace and mercy can and will help you to persevere should you believe in Him.  The question that you must answer is whether or not you have the complete trust that God will. 

God is Our Keeper

I share with you what I have learned in my life and it stands in agreement with what David shared.  In Psalm 121:1-2, David said that when he looked to the hills he had to climb, he knew his help would come from the Lord.  I share with you today that I know my help comes from the Lord because He has always been there to help me!

In Psalm 121:3, David said that the Lord would not allow one’s foot to be moved (to stumble).  I think about when my dad passed away and how my world was rocked in that moment.  I honestly didn’t think I nor my close family would make it but 13 years later and we are still making it!  I think about when my kidneys failed and how impossible a day like today seemed but clearly today is possible because of God.  

David then said in Psalm 121:5 that God is your keeper and you better believe I agree with him on that!  God did not let my faith be moved away from Him when the going got tough because He kept me in His care!  I want you to understand today where many in this generation have given up on God, God is the best shield and protection you will ever find.  God is the best provider and deliverer you can ever have!

So, if you desire to persevere in whatever you’re going through today, if you have not turned to God I encourage you to do so!  Be patient with Him and learn to have complete trust in His works.  As David said in Psalm 121:7-8, and I do agree with him, “The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul.  The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore.”

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