This is a good quote from Eugene Peterson’s A Long Obedience in the Same Direction (ch. 11, Psalm 129, pp. 128-129):
The central reality is the personal, unalterable, persevering commitment that God makes to us. Perseverance is not the result of our determination, it is the result of God’s faithfulness. We survive in the way of faith not because we have extraordinary stamina but because God is righteous. Christian discipleship is a process of paying more and more attention to God’s righteousness and less and less attention to our own; finding the meaning of our lives not by probing our moods and motives and morals but by believing in God’s will and purposes; making a map of the faithfulness of God, not charting the rise and fall of our enthusiasms. It is out of such a reality that we acquire perseverance.
Peterson is talking about Psalm 129 and how even in the face of affliction, the psalmist praises God’s faithfulness. Verse 4 says “The Lord is righteous, he has cut the cords of the wicked.” In other words, the Lord has rendered useless the attacks of the wicked.
What I really like in this quote from Peterson’s book, which is a meditation on the Psalms of Ascents, is that our perseverance in faith isn’t through our own strength, but through God’s righteousness. And one way to remember that is to make a “map” of God’s faithfulness.
Think about your life of faith. If you made a map, or a timeline, of your life, what would it look like? Probably it would have high points and low points, many turnings and meanderings. But you could probably point to places where God showed his righteousness, his faithfulness, where he sustained you. Do you talk about those times and share them with your children? Do you write them down in a journal?
We are prone by nature to be selfish, wrapped up in our own moods and enthusiasms. But God, by nature, is righteous, steady, faithful. Spend some time this month meditating on God’s faithfulness in your life and thank him for building perseverance in you.