Perseverance is the name given to the new Mars Rover. Seventh grader Alex Mather, who won a contest to name it, was not describing the Rover, but the people who made it. They persevered and kept pushing the limits.
In Luke 18:1-8, a persistent widow kept telling a judge that her rights were being violated. The judge did not listen, but because the widow would not quit badgering him, he thought he should act. Jesus said, the same as the judge, “God will step in and work justice for his chosen people who continue to cry out for help” (The Message).
He will stick up for them.
The parable lifts up the widow, to be sure, but the real focus is on God who is the source of justice for those who cry to God night and day.
If you really believe in something, keep working toward your goal to accomplish it. It is never easy and will take time and patience. Maybe it will never be totally successful, but every little accomplishment is better than nothing at all.
Perseverance is most effective when it is coordinated with God’s intentions. Some churches in New Hampshire have a relationship with churches in Zimbabwe.
My son, a minister, wrote a sermon on persistence. The church in Zimbabwe had a bold vision for a large sanctuary with a Sunday School attached on one side and a youth space on the other.
In 2013, they built the youth space, and since then, have worshiped in the small, unfinished cinder block space. Because churches in Zimbabwe have no mortgages or capital campaigns, building projects see progress when resources are available.
In 2015, their pastor challenged the congregation to donate bricks for the sanctuary wall. People scrounged bricks and brought enough to raise the walls to the tops of the windows. Another gathering of bricks enabled the church to raise the walls to the roof line.
In 2019, my son celebrated the 40th anniversary of his ordination by asking that gifts be designated for the Zimbabwe church. Now their building a roof. They persevered but insist that God has accomplished these goals.
A program of the United Churches of Lycoming County to eliminate Styrofoam has also required persistence. Members talk to area businesses to convince them to change.
It has not been easy, but we see slow changes being made by people who care about the environment. Some grocery stores and restaurants have decided Styrofoam is not good.
With grant funding, United Churches is working with congregations and businesses to supply products for them that are biodegradable, after which they will purchase non-Styrofoam products.
Real good does not happen solely by our own gumption. This is not to say our perseverance doesn’t matter; of course it does.
But faith insists that God brings about God’s kingdom, not us.
Ruth K. Keller, member of New Covenant United Church of Christ and the United Churches of Lycoming Social Concerns Committee