Biblical Tales of Perseverance

Against All Odds

Biblical Tales of Perseverance

The promise, the encouragement of help, of strength renewed, of feet lifted from the miry clay of life’s struggles. May we know that today, in those moments of waiting upon the One who cares and understands us. And may we draw strength, finding calm for our racing thoughts, assurance for our troubled hearts, and purpose for the next step on the road ahead.

He lifted me from the sinking sands and made my footsteps firm. Psalm 40 v 2

Those who wait on Lord shall renew their strength. Isaiah 40 v 31

Against All Odds

Biblical Tales of Perseverance

So many prayers and songs, these psalms full of heart cries, full of loss and questions and longing. Feels here as if they are drowning, water without and tears within. The ground no longer as solid as it once was, and their honest praying has become a song confessing their anxiety. And expressing faith too, amongst the longings and questions, words of truth and hope.

Psalm 69 v 1-15

Against All Odds

Biblical Tales of Perseverance

Lord, we all know what weakness is, have experienced different kinds of failure. Let your grace abound today please. May your strength come into its own in our flaws. Take the reality of our true selves, our pride and humility, our gratitude and selfishness, our faults and successes, our strengths and weaknesses, and make of them something good, something that honours you and blesses others please, on this day, amen.

2 Corinthians 12 v 7-10

Against All Odds

Biblical Tales of Perseverance

They have waited, seen many days and nights. Kept going, through the ups and down and the sameness. Wondering, hoping. Looking for the light. No doubt some days easier than others. Simeon and Anna, two faithful servants, different lives, different personalities and experiences. Yet both holding on. Tuned to seeing the presence of God in the small and unexpected things.

Luke 2 v 21-38

Against All Odds

Biblical Tales of Perseverance

Her faithfulness, her patience, her courage. Crying out, relentlessly, holding on through days and nights, till justice and mercy prevail. A lone figure, hope expressed by her very presence, when all seems against her. Another persistent woman, the harvest season a barren one for her. For six long months she waits for justice. Won’t give up till peace is restored.

2 Samuel 21 v 10-14

Against All Odds

Biblical Tales of Perseverance

They were trying to run away, trying to avoid the chaos of the situation. Perhaps trying to flee the chaos in their heads too. Their mental wellbeing had taken a hammering. Expectations flummoxed. At odds with each other perhaps. And so they take to the road, unaware that the one who can help them is walking right beside them.

Luke 24 v 13-34

Against All Odds

Biblical Tales of Perseverance

So he tells them, try not to worry, even though he knows there is plenty to worry about. Instead turn your worries into prayers. 5 seconds, 5 minutes, 5 moments, 5 hours of offering them up, for help, for strength, for relief, for courage. This headline-screaming world, so full of uncertainty, piles on the angst and agony. Drains our hope. But there are other headlines. There is other news. ‘Do not be afraid.’

Matthew 6 v 25-34 & Philippians 4 v 6-7

Against All Odds

Biblical Tales of Perseverance

Easy perhaps to imagine it was plain-sailing for them. But they found themselves alone. Unsure of the road ahead. Anxious. Just when they thought things would be OK. Just when they imagined another way. And what were they advised to do? Wait. Hold on. Though they had no clear idea of the future.

Acts 1 v 6-11 & Luke 24 v 49-51

Against All Odds

Biblical Tales of Perseverance

As he hung there, pinned for all time, a living portrait of grace and compassion, life inscribed in the most unexpected of languages, he would have known he could have walked away. Could have flexed his divine muscles and broken free. But he wouldn’t. He knew he had to keep going, knew he needed to be there. A signpost, an eternal transforming door.

John 3 v 14-17

For Valentine’s Day

The greatest love, never giving up, patient and kind, going the extra mile, facing down the giants, and climbing a hill of change for us. A hill of hope, a hill where burdens can be laid down. All embracing, death-defying, sacrificial and life-transforming, turning the usual goals of life upside down. Opening the gate to life, a love that will not let us go.

Against All Odds

Biblical Tales of Perseverance

A song of longing and hope, faith wrapped in honest cries for change. ‘How long, how long?’ The nature of their world wearying them, and their sense that there is a better way. A prayer and a call for fresh light and life. A song of trust, and the reminders of God’s help and presence, often in the hands and feet and kindness of others.

Against All Odds

Biblical Tales of Perseverance

She feels a little as if she’s surrounded on all sides. Those around her sometimes help, sometimes make things feel worse. She’s in a troubled place. As if she’s trapped on a bridge that’s burning at both ends, caught between problems out of her control. Still, she uses all her resources and quick thinking, presses on and makes a way, another solution. Does her best to change things for the better.

1 Samuel 25 v 15-19

Against All Odds

Biblical Tales of Perseverance

He has days when he just wants to give up. Like George in It’s a Wonderful Life he wishes he’d never been around. He’s tired of his life and losing perspective. So he pours it all out, is honest in his praying, in his calls to heaven. No need to pretend or cover up. He offloads his pain and discomfort. Says it like it is.

Job 3 v 23

Against All Odds

Biblical Tales of Perseverance

He looks up. Catches sight of the light up there. Didn’t expect to land here today. Stuck. Wondering what next. Hard when you cannot see even the next step. He draws on his resolve, on his faith, on his hope that this will not end this way. Though he can see only walls around him, there is light above and the possibility of change. He needs help, needs hope to hold onto.

Genesis 37 v 18-34

Against All Odds

Biblical Tales of Perseverance

They think of God and moan! But this is no lack of faith but a longing springing from it. Stirred by it. A sense that this is not how things should be. There is another way, and their souls yearn for it. For peace and wholeness. For a world where harmony is the watchword. Where anxiety is no more and tears are a distant memory.

Psalm 77, Revelation 21 v 1-3

Against All Odds

Biblical Tales of Perseverance

Two pertinent questions. ‘Do you want to leave me too? ‘Where else can we go, Lord?’ Perhaps they wished there were somewhere else they could go, an easier way, a calmer way. Another life. And perhaps we wish so too. Their faith may have been hanging by a thread, with little more than the strength of a spider’s web. Clutching on by their fingernails. We know that feeling. Oh yes. Those hard times.

John 6 v 66-69

Against All Odds

Biblical Tales of Perseverance

Like a plant wilting from lack of water, like a car nearing the end of its fuel supply, we need your help, need your refreshment, your strength, your energy for this day and each day. We recall times when the days were easier when life had a bright warmth. And we cry to you for these things once more. Refresh us, fill us, inspire us once more.

Psalm 42 v 1-4

Against All Odds

Biblical Tales of Perseverance

What must that have felt like for the prophet, to look on those empty fields? When all that was supposed to be had not transpired. And where did he find the strength, the courage, the character to be able to say what he did. ‘Even though… yet still…’ There are times when we lose our way, when troubles litter the pathway, when what was supposed to be, is not what has transpired.

Habakkuk 3 v 17-19

Against All Odds

Biblical Tales of Perseverance

She had thought everything was lost. Did not know what she would do. Yet found in that man from Nazareth a new way forward. A new beginning. The compassion of the creator touching her life. Hope amidst the sadness and difficulty. He was able to restore the light to her life.

Luke 7 v 11-15

Against All Odds

Biblical Tales of Perseverance

So many prayers and songs, these psalms full of heart cries, full of loss and questions and longing. Feels here as if they are drowning, water without and tears within. The ground no longer as solid as it once was, and their honest praying has become a song confessing their anxiety. And expressing faith too, amongst the longings and questions, words of truth and hope.

Psalm 69 v 1-15

Against All Odds

Biblical Tales of Perseverance

Her faithfulness, her patience, her courage. Crying out, relentlessly, holding on through days and nights, till justice and mercy prevail. A lone figure, hope expressed by her very presence, when all seems against her. Another persistent widow, the harvest season a barren one for her. For six long months she waits for justice. Won’t give up till peace is restored.

2 Samuel 21 v 10-14

Against All Odds
Biblical Tales of Perseverance
No way is she giving up. Though she has no real power or influence, yet she keeps on. And the audience must have laughed out loud at the story. It’s ridiculous. But she keeps on. Knock, knock, knock, knock, knock, knock, knock, knock… you get the picture. And it was worth it. The way she hung on, the way she refused to be held back, to accept the temptation to give up. A story of hanging on.
Luke 18 v 1-8

Against All Odds
Biblical Tales of Perseverance
Though they feel as if life has turned on them, wrestled them to the ground and trampled them a little. Though they feel wounded by the arrows of struggle and disappointment, left limping by the relentless onslaught of loss and sadness. Yet they lift their heads to another dawn, search for the signs of hope and faithfulness in the rising of another sun, for the promise of light and the presence of one who can strengthen us and help us through another day.
Lamentations 3 v 19-23

Against All Odds
Biblical Tales of Perseverance
He didn’t give up, though he was tempted to, though so much was against him. Though he was terribly downcast at times, though he was misunderstood, even by those he loved. A man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. He pressed on, and knows how hard it can be for us to do the same.
Hebrews 12 v 2-3, Mark 14 v 32, Luke 9 v 51, Mark 8 v 32, Isaiah 53 v 3

Against All Odds
Biblical Tales of Perseverance
Strange noises in the night as they stand in the shackled darkness, unable to see a way forward. The sound of chains breaking and bonds becoming too loose to hold them back. They hear the prison doors glide open and the footsteps of a rescuer come to set them free. And so they start again, in spite of the troubles thrown at them.
Acts 5 v 17-21

Against All Odds
Biblical Tales of Perseverance
Though life may seem a long valley of shadows at times, full of troubling hills we must climb, we do not venture alone, or climb without a friend. A shepherd who knows these shadows, and has walked this crumbling way before us. One who has faced life’s dark phantoms, and debilitating disappointments, one who has walked in our shoes, and now travels with us this day.
Psalm 23 v 4

Against All Odds
Biblical Tales of Perseverance
Not how they imagined this to turn out. Not the kind of post-Christmas plan that others might have predicted. Upping sticks from one reality into a whole other life, no doubt full of questions and concerns, from time to time falling out with each other. But they keep on. A different kind of moving forward.
Matthew 2 v 13-15

Against All Odds
Biblical Tales of Perseverance
In spite of himself, in spite of his fears and his head-shaking, grumbling pronouncements, in spite of his preconceptions and frustrations, he went. He did the deed. He walked on. And even though his mood was still sour, and he struggled to understand what was going on, good things took place, and he made a difference.
Jonah 3 v 1-10 & 4 v 10-11

Against All Odds
Biblical Tales of Perseverance
Everything seems set against them. All they had put in place has fallen away, their best-laid plans little more now than litter by the wayside. But they walk on. Into an unknown future. Towards uncertainty, but with each other. In it together. Small heroes.
Ruth 1 v 16-22

Against All Odds
Biblical Tales of Perseverance
Finds himself imprisoned, shut down, when he wants to be doing other things, wants to move on. Get back to his original plan. So plan B rears its head. He’ll communicate with others by any means. Starts sending out words of encouragement and urging. Keep on moving forward, he says. Walk on. Keep on caring.
Philippians 1 v 7-11

Biblical Tales of Perseverance
She pushes on, head down, fearful but intent on reaching out. The years have not been kind, they have worn her down as she has borne the brunt of an unexpected life. But she will not give up. She pushes on. Fists clenched, every last ounce of strength mustered, she will not give up. Life may seem against her, but it will not always be so. She has hope for change.
Mark 5 v 24-34.

Against All Odds
Biblical Tales of Perseverance
She is now beset by trouble and surrounded by a wall of hostility. Hemmed in it seems. And yet, from an unexpected corner comes help. And a way forward. The troubles that bear down on her won’t hold her back. She lifts her head. She stands. Sees the smile of the world’s greatest friend. Ready to help her with the cracks in her life. She moves on.
John 8 v 1-11

Against All Odds
Biblical Tales of Perseverance
All kinds of things must have come his way in that dry boot camp of dust. He is buffeted by battles within and without. There must have been days when he could barely think straight. Nights when the loneliness swirled around him like malevolent fog. That place of shaping and struggle and desert heat. He knows what it is to wrestle, to be up against it. He understands us, knows our battles.
Matthew 4 v 1-11 & Hebrews 4 v 15

Against All Odds
Biblical Tales of Perseverance
They must have felt weak and fearful. Why else would they need to be told to take courage and draw strength. They were not superheroes but neither were they alone. We are not superheroes, but we are not alone. There is a well of fresh water, a source of strength and courage. May we find the moments of silence and the heartfelt mumbled words to draw from it today.
Deuteronomy 31 v 6

Against All Odds
Biblical Tales of Perseverance
He has blown it. As we all do from time to time. He could run and hide from himself. Build a wall and hide behind it. Everything within him makes him feel like doing that. But no. Where else has he to go than back to his maker? The God of second chances. And third chances. And fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh… chances. A hundred, a thousand, ten thousand chances.
Psalm 51

Against All Odds
Biblical Tales of Perseverance
‘If only you had been here…’ Sometimes faith is mixed with all kinds of other things. Disappointment, sadness, questions, confusion, uncertainty… often it’s a montage of things. Faith amongst the troubles, Amongst the hopes and longings. Certainly these two sisters knew that. One publicly pouring out her angst, the other a more private person, nursing her questions close to herself.
John 11 v 17-32

Against All Odds
Biblical Tales of Perseverance
He had a vision, a goal, a dream. It continues to be an uphill struggle, and he feels this should have been easier. The pieces should have fallen into place, it shouldn’t be like trying to do a jigsaw in a storm, or carrying water in a sieve. But they have soldiered on, in spite of the pressure and the forces that have battled against them.
Nehemiah 8 v 8-12

Against All Odds
Biblical Tales of Perseverance
This could go badly wrong. All the worst case scenarios swill around her head. It takes all her effort to calm her racing mind. She didn’t ask for this, didn’t choose this situation. So what is the best thing she can do? She lifts her eyes, looks away from the situation for a moment. Prays for help and wisdom. For the wisdom, the calm, and the stamina to walk on.
Esther 4 v 15-17

Against All Odds
Biblical Tales of Perseverance
He had known his fair share of challenges. Rebuffed, knocked about, wrongly arrested, falsely imprisoned, slurred, slandered, rejected, abused, wounded, shipwrecked, left adrift, threatened with flooding, worn down, weary, hungry, lonely, and cold. Pummelled by problems. And yet, in the strength of his Maker and the King of compassion, he walked on. And so he encourages us to keep going too.
1 Corinthians 12 v 23-27

Against All Odds
Biblical Tales of Perseverance
No way is she giving up. Though she has no real power or influence, yet she keeps on. And the audience must have laughed out loud at the story. It’s ridiculous. But she keeps on. Knock, knock, knock, knock, knock, knock, knock, knock… you get the picture. And it was worth it. The way she hung on, the way she refused to be held back, to accept the temptation to give up. A story for our times perhaps.
Luke 18 v 1-8

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