Joop Zoetemelk is known as the Netherlands’ most successful cyclist. But that’s because he never gave up. He started and finished the Tour de France 16 times—placing second five times before winning in 1980. That’s perseverance!
Many winners have reached success by climbing a special ladder called “never give up.” However, there are also many who have lost the opportunity to achieve success because they gave up too soon. This can happen in every area of life: family, education, friends, work, service. Perseverance is a key to victory.
The apostle Paul persevered despite persecution and affliction (2 Tim. 3:10–11). He viewed life with realism, recognizing that as followers of Christ we will suffer persecution (vv. 12–13), but he instructed Timothy to place his faith in God and the encouragement of the Scriptures (vv. 14–15). Doing so would help him face discouragement and endure with hope. At the end of his life, Paul said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (4:7).
We too can allow the Scriptures to strengthen us to press on in the race marked out for us. For our God is both a promise-making and promise-keeping God and will reward those who faithfully finish the race (v. 8).
Heavenly Father, give me strength of character and perseverance to serve you better. Help me not to get discouraged when things get tough but to rely on You to see me through.
Faith connects our weakness to God’s strength.
Paul experienced great persecution in the cities of Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra. In Antioch, he faced aggressive opposition from the religious leaders (Acts 13:45; 15:1–2). In Iconium, Gentile and Jewish leaders conspired to have him killed (14:4–5). And in Lystra, he was stoned and left for dead (v. 19). Yet in his final letter to Timothy, Paul uses these three cities as examples of perseverance. He recounts these terribly painful events not to garner pity but to remind Timothy of God’s faithfulness during times of hardship and pain.