Folks, it’s Christmastime again! Christmas means celebrating the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s also a time of renewed hope for a spiritual rebirth for those we love who do not yet know Him as their personal Savior. It’s a time when even the secular media are full of songs like “Joy to the world, the Lord is come!” It’s, likewise, a time when even folks who rarely darken the door of a church are more willing to attend.

Maybe you have loved ones you’ve been praying for and have been trying to show the love of Christ for years. And maybe their continual rejection of Him has you discouraged and wondering if you should even try to interest them in the gospel story again this year.

If that’s your situation—and I believe it is for many of you reading this—I have a two-word message for you: Perseverance pays.

The Bible encourages us many times to not give up hope, to keep asking God for the things that really matter to us and to continue trusting that He is a gracious and giving Father.

For example, in Luke 18:1-8, Jesus clearly exhorted us to never stop praying. Hear the words of His parable:

Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart, saying, “In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man. There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give me legal protection from my opponent.’ For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out.’”And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge said; now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”

Now let me tell you the story of a woman who took that exhortation to heart and persevered.

For 35 years, Mary prayed for her husband, Marvin. For 35 years, he rejected her. When their two children came to our summer camps, they trusted Christ and returned to share their newly found faith with their dad.

“Hogwash,” he responded. “It’s all hogwash.”

The two young believers were not deterred. They joined their mom in prayer for him.

Mary’s mom died in early October of that year. A week later, Marvin died. Shortly thereafter, Mary and I connected on an unforgettable phone call. “How are you, Mary?” I asked. “I can’t imagine how difficult this must have been for you.”

To my pleasant surprise, Mary was upbeat and joyful. “I’m living off a memory,” she responded. “The kids and I witnessed a miracle.”

“Tell me about it, Mary,” I pressed.

Mary proceeded to tell me the story of her countless prayers and attempts to lead Marvin out of his dark stubbornness. She told me about her graceful persistence in prayer.

“Just before Marvin died,” she continued, “as he lay quietly in bed, slowly breathing his last few breaths, I looked into his face and said, ‘Marvin, may I tell you about Jesus one last time?’”


She said he fixed his eyes on her lips and granted her request.


“Before Marvin took his final breath and closed his eyes for his eternal judgment, he whispered these two words to his faithful, praying wife: ‘I believe.'”
One final round before the closing bell, Mary shared God’s plan of salvation and eternal life through His Son’s sacrificial death on the cross. Before Marvin took his final breath and closed his eyes for his eternal judgment, he whispered these two words to his faithful, praying wife: “I believe.”

Mary personified the apostle Paul’s call in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to “pray without ceasing,” and in the end, God honored her many faithful requests and ushered Marvin into His eternal kingdom.

John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
In this season when we especially remember the giving of that Son, let’s also remember to keep praying and sharing our faith with those we love. Let’s persevere like Mary. And let’s keep trusting that God, who loves our Marvins even more than we do, will likewise keep calling and leading them to Himself.

From all of us here at Kanakuk, we wish a very Merry Christmas to you and your family! Glory to the newborn King, at whose name every knee will one day bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord!

Written by Joe White
Joe has been awarded two honorary Doctoral degrees and has written more than 20 books for teenagers and parents alike. Dr. James Dobson says "Joe White knows more about teenagers than anyone in North America." Joe and his wife, Debbie-Jo, reside in Branson, MO where they oversee Kanakuk Ministries.

Leave a Comment