Perstare, just one word made it through the front,
Perstare read the worn note.
It came at such a timely moment,
When just I saw my sword hit the ground,
I fell to my knees and said enough,
Enough, I have given enough.
Perstare it read though,
It was simple and clear.
I must persevere.
Though He slay me- perstare.
Fidelis ad mordem,
Came my swift reply.
Faithful until death,
I will arise, perstare.
©2013 Matthew W. Camphuis
“And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
Being a missionary and a pastor is the hardest “job” you could ever embark on. You must struggle against your own flesh, fight the adversary as does every other Christian, and then you must fight for everyone else, often times with never so much as a thank you. The background for this poem is that I was just about ready to give up again. There was something in my life, something that was new and amazing, something that I thought I had never felt before. As soon as it seemed to be going so well it seemed as though the Lord would take it from me. And so my knees fell to the ground and I told the Lord enough, I have given you enough, would you take this one thing so precious to me away as well? I wanted to give up the battle, because I couldn’t even love as everyone else could love. Must I be like Paul and never have a wife?
Feeling defeated and without hope I returned to my room only to see a Facebook comment from my brother in law that just said one thing- perstare. That is Latin for persevere. It touched my soul in a way that nothing else anyone could have ever said would. I responded to his comment swiftly and resolute “fidelis ad mordem”- faithful until death. I would perstare even if it meant the death of all self.
Paul was able to say that he could actually glory, or boast in, his tribulations. He tells us that he could take glory in his tribulations because he knew what they would produce in him.
The word for tribulations in the Greek means a pressing together or a pressure and metaphorically means oppression, affliction, distress, etc. It is as though tribulation is a wine press that we are put through, although painful, in the end it produces a much more valuable and precious result.
The first thing that tribulations will produce is perseverance. Perseverance means steadfastness, constancy, and endurance. Strong’s explains it in stating “in the NT the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings.” I find it interesting that a tribulation produces perseverance; you would think that it would be the other way around… that you must first have perseverance to make it through a trial, but no. A person who has a lot of perseverance is a person who has gone through a lot of trials.
Next, perseverance will produce character. The word for character in Greek is “dokime” and it means approved and tried character or a specimen of tried worth. Character is not something that can be bought, nor is it something you can convince people of with your words. It is the unspoken truth of a person that is known by all before a word is ever said. A man who has character is a man who has been tested and approved.
Lastly, character will produce hope. I would have thought that we should start with hope, yet here we see that it is the last one to come out of the wine press. The hope that the Bible speaks of is slightly different than the general concept we have of it. It means a “confident expectation of good”. The person who has gone through trials and has gained a steadfast character has also learned to expect good to come out of their trial because they “…know that all things work together for good to those who love God…” (Romans 8:28a).
This is a confident expectation that will not disappoint us because God has sealed His promise of eternal salvation to us in a demonstration of His love by pouring out His Holy Spirit into our hearts. We know all things will work together for good because we have come to know the Spirit of God personally in our hearts, and we confidently look forward to the day when what we know in our hearts will be seen by our eyes.