J. Holman

(Investigator 77, 2001 March)

Winston Churchill was an archetype of perseverance — a colossus of refusal to surrender to the adversary. "Never give in," he would say, "never, NEVER, NEVER, in nothing great or small, large or petty never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. NEVER yield to force, NEVER yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy!"
That Brobdingnagian determination to overcome any and all obstacles, coupled with his personal abilities and willingness to work, made Churchill's life an inspiration to millions. And that same quality, PERSEVERANCE, will make the difference between success and failure in our lives.
Life has its bleak moments — when things seem to go wrong — when even obedience to God's laws seems, on the surface, only to bring more disheartening results. Long periods of time can go by with no apparent "blessings" as we mortals tend to reckon blessings. But we need to realise that God does not always see things as we earthlings do.
Take the example of Joseph the elder son of Jacob and Rachel. One can hardly say he "deserved" his troubles. In his case the envy of others was to blame.
Joseph's brothers could hardly tolerate his favoured position in the family — they hated him for the beautiful coat their father had given him. Joseph began to tell of his highly implicative dreams — that they and their father would one day bow before him. So they got rid of him — sold him as a slave and convinced their father that he was dead, stealing and ruining his beautiful coat in the process.
Later, in Egypt, Joseph was sold again — this time to the chief executioner. Not a very nice position to be in! And all of this because he was one with whom God was dealing.
Soon, things got WORSE! The executioner's wife made a play for him, and he refused her. He wisely obeyed God. And what did he get for his staunch morality? The proverbial "woman scorned" deceitfully forced her cruel revenge by seeing him thrown in jail. For obeying God he was thrown in a dark dungeon with no hope of escape or release. He became a "forgotten man".

So, there you have it. God begins to DEAL with the man. Things go well for a little while — and then EVERYTHING falls apart! Or so it appears.
Of course, when we read the rest of the story, everything becomes clear. In just a few more paragraphs, the whole situation is changed. All has worked out beautifully. Joseph was finally recognised, was made RULER directly in association with the chief Pharaoh of Egypt, his entire family was reunited and brought to Egypt to be near him, and he was jointly given the best of the nation's land. The complete story is touching and pulchritudinous.

But what if YOU had been Joseph? Would you have patiently endured all the affliction, pain, discouragement and suffering, without "giving up" or losing faith in God? The word of God says, "If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small" (Proverbs 24:10, Amplified Bible).

You wouldn't have been able to see the end from the beginning any more perfectly than Joseph could. The neat and encouraging paragraphs would not yet have been written. You would simply have been robbed of your favourite clothes and sold as a SLAVE into the worst possible situation. You would not speak or understand the language of the man you worked for. His wife would have been making seductive passes at YOU. And YOU — if you had obeyed God — would have found yourself thrown in the darkest of jails and forgotten.
You would most likely rue the day you got that beautiful garment from your father — and you might even wish you had never had those special dreams. You would certainly wish you had kept quiet about them. But there you would be. In a horrible jail. In a foreign country. Separated from everything and everyone you knew and loved. A prisoner, not guilty, but punished.

This kind of situation is far from being an isolated case. God always deals with people as He knows is best. In everything He wants his people to develop faith in the fact that He is in CONTROL whether or not things may "look good" for the moment. The golden sky comes at the END of the storm — the "silver lining" in clouds is not apparent at first. And only through our patiently enduring and USING the experiences that come our way do we develop ENDURING FAITH in God.
Trials must come, though in contrast to Joseph we are often responsible for the troubles that come our way. We create our problems through our own shortcomings, or we force God to correct us when we disobey His laws or principles, even when we aren't aware of what mistake we may have been making until God makes it clear to us in His unmistakable ways. But in either case, to let God do His incredible work in our lives we have to ENDURE chastisement, knowing that God punishes us for our eternal welfare and good, as a loving father spanks his children (Hebrews 12:5-11).
When your life looks "boxed in", hopeless — when nothing seems to work out right — then pause and consider that your Creator LOVES you and is deeply concerned for you and aware of your every situation. Remember always that these trials and tests are really for your own good (Romans 8:28-29).
This is the typical time "when NOT to give in"! When you are troubled SEEK God. Draw close to Him in prayer. Ask God to help you see if YOU are doing something wrong — something He forbids — and if you are, CHANGE! Or if you are NOT doing something you are positively commanded to do, CHANGE!
Then after correcting whatever you came to see was wrong (or if you could clearly see that no sin was involved), PATIENTLY ENDURE the affliction, committing the outcome into the hands of God while you continue to DO ALL YOUR DUTY. Let God solve your problem and deliver you from it, in His own right time, knowing he would not allow it in the first place unless it were for your good and the good of others.
God is here to help, to intercede for, to liberate those who are cast down — NOT to destroy them. He may try our mettle — but He'll bless us, afterwards, for our endurance. We know or have seen how He helped others, and not being a respecter of persons (Acts 10:34) He will certainly help you! So ENDURE with God's help. Let God help you build your character — so He can bless you in due time. Don't EVER give up. Get "quit" out of your vocabulary, for you CANNOT see tomorrow from today's utterly inadequate, terribly limited HUMAN viewpoint!

When you are depressed, or "down in the dumps", because of some trial, then pray as David did:

"But O my soul, don't be discouraged. Don't be upset. Expect God to act! For I know that I shall again have plenty of reason to praise Him for all that He will do. He is my help! He is MY GOD!" (Psalm 42:11, The Living Bible)
This is the right time when not to give in.
Josef Holman,