The habit of exercise is the commonest example of how perseverance pays. Remember those moments you wanted to sleep in or recline on your couch and enjoy a jumbo dessert. Body fat increases. You watch the scale and notice you’ve added one pound, then two, and three, on and on. You know your weight isn’t right, the fat needed to be burned. Yet, hardly do we follow through. We procrastinate.
Perhaps we started the year with a resolution to make a two-mile walk five times a week. Not long, we cut it to four times, three times until it becomes once a week, once a month, etc. Our zeal wanes. Good feelings and dreams of a healthy, toned body give way to a more tantalizing dessert and a “next time” wave of the hand to the thought of going to the gym.
Barely do we reflect on why we can’t follow through with our decisions to exercise and eat healthily. We fall back to old ways, old habits. Holding on to pleasant and better choices tends to be more counter to our routine and comfort zone.
All praise discipline, but it is hardly followed through by many. What happens to us with simple exercises also happens in our spiritual life. Hence, the writer of The Letter to the Hebrews admonishes persevering in faith and cultivating the virtue of patience.
“For God is not so unjust as to overlook your work and the love which you showed for his sake in serving the saints, as you still do. And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness in realizing the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Hebrew 6:10-12).
Every little practice of virtue, or work of charity, one does matters. In doing good, nothing is small, and nothing is lost. Over time, the works of faith, our practices of virtuous acts, will become signature contributions to others and the world.
When we persevere in doing good, we stamp our identity in the hearts of many who are beneficiaries of the good we do. We find a niche in the nick of time, heading to eternity. When we practice virtuous acts and, in faith, hold on to the end amidst the trials and challenges we face, we answer the title of “faithful sons and daughters of our God.” We receive heavenly blessings. As Scripture says, people who hold on to the end win the promises.
We’ve got to fix our gaze on the finish line, learn from the past, and look to the future with renewed hope while we do what we ought to now. This approach is one of the tested spiritual leadership strategies for reaching the goal.
Fr. Maurice Emelu