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THE GIFT OF PERSEVERANCE

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Rev Andrew J. Demotses

When I was a student in the graduate school of Yale University, one of my professors was a renowned preacher and a respected expert in the science of linguistics. In his many years of teaching he had mentored two generations of preachers and his courses and seminars were so popular that not all students who wanted to take them could be accommodated. A prolific writer, he had authored many books, and as retirement approached he was working diligently on a book about linguistics that would serve as the cap stone of his career, and as his magnum opus.

Years of research had finally ended and the materials for his book had been transferred to his home where the writing would begin. One day, he was summoned from his classroom to be told that a fire had ripped through his house and destroyed much of the material he had so painstakingly assembled.

Amazingly enough, he received the news with no sign of despair or impatience. Instead, he was heard thanking God that no one had been hurt and that he still had the ability to do the work over again. He started his research immediately, refusing to waste even one moment of time in useless self-pity. Before his passing, he had duplicated and even improved on his earlier achievements and saw his book published to critical acclaim.

When one has the ability to meet a tragic loss with such uncomplaining endurance, it is evidence of a faith that has been tempered and well-tested as well as of a trust that is firmly rooted in God. It demonstrates a heart into which God’s love has been richly poured out, and a life with its priorities rightly ordered.

Each of us has known disappointment and reversal in the course of our life, and there is little doubt that we shall have to face them again. At times like these, it is helpful to remember the wonderful words of St. Paul who wrote to the Christians living in Rome, “tribulation produces perseverance, and perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (5:3-4). In those difficult moments, we need to ask the Lord for the gift of perseverance and then pick up the pieces to start over again, remembering all the while that perseverance and achievement are two sides of the same coin.

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