Hebrews 10:36: Rethinking perseverance

“For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.”

Hebrews 10:36

What does Hebrews 10:36 mean?

I remember having a really awkward conversation one day with my high school guidance counselor. I was 16 and had fallen in love. And I knew that the girl in question was the one I would one day marry. But, between where I was and where I wanted to be—the altar with my future wife—lay finishing my education, college, getting a full-time job (and finding the courage to ask the Big Question!)

But a man has to start somewhere. So, I asked my guidance counsellor a simple question: “how do I finish high school in two years?”

I’ll never forget his response. “It’s impossible,” he said.

Okay, so I knew I had a lot against me. I came from a low-income family, was one of probably 5 Black kids in the district, and my Christian stand didn’t quite fit in with the expectations. In his view, graduating on time would be an accomplishment. Realistically speaking, college was be financially unattainable. But as I sat across that small, closet-like office with my counselor, I think God opened my eyes to get a clearer picture of perseverance.

black mug with religious text from holy bible
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The Bible shows us that whenever we do God’s will, we can count on obstacles being present. They may be emotional. They may come from society or mistakes we’ve made in the past. Sometimes they stem from our own mind. Whatever the source, the outcome will be the same—an attempt to sabotage God’s will from being accomplished in your life.

What does God’s will have to do with our choices?

I once assumed that when God wanted something done, it would always happen. That’s partially true. But God’s will is often executed through human actions, including our decision to endure despite opposition.

The Book of Hebrews shows us that endurance is a key part to carrying out God’s plan. Without it, Moses would never have been able to lead a bunch of ungrateful ex-slaves across a desert for 40 years. Without endurance, Joshua would have given up after the failure at Ai.

With these men, and others, as my examples, I convinced my school to take a chance on me and accelerate my schedule. I graduated at the top of my class and went onto college thanks to a scholarship, praying parents, and three part-time jobs. Fueled by love (and caffeine) what others called impossible, became reality—not once but twice.

Round two

The word perseverance encompasses another word: EVER. God’s plan isn’t something that’s just accomplished once in a lifetime. He wants each day to reveal yet another aspect of His great purpose. At Stonybrook University, at age 17, I had a similar conversation with my academic advisor. And… I got the same response.

“It’s impossible,” he said. “Finishing 120 credits early won’t happen.”

But this time, I knew by experience that the word “impossible” is relative. After all, Daniel’s situation in the lions’ den looked pretty impossible but that ended rather well!

man people art pattern
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Once we know that we’re doing what God wants, every obstacle is simply an illusion. It is a mist that dissipates with each step that we take.

Believe me, I suffered—18 credits in one summer is no joke—but in less than three years, I graduated with two bachelor degrees from the same university that told me my dream couldn’t happen.

Perseverance pays off in every sense of the word. And, while we can’t always understand God’s plan (as I certainly didn’t then), everything will eventually make sense.

Things eventually make sense

Two weeks after Lois and I got married, her father died of a heart attack. Then my mom passed unexpectedly and, shortly after, so did my dad. As we watched the pillars of our lives be abruptly ripped from our hearts, we had one consolation—God knew this was going to happen and He cared enough to bring us together before it did.

So, as you read scriptures about perseverance, know that they are more than just words. They are God’s command for us to rise above whatever stands in our way and do the work that He has put us here to accomplish.

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