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?’”
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.
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!