Tension rose as one of my sons persevered through some math. He's generally a quick learner, but there's one concept that continues to confuse him. An entire page of math re-do's and a mom peering over his shoulder was enough to send him into an internal fury. (I often wonder if kids who learn quickly miss the important lesson of persevering through the difficult. That's a discussion for another day.) He worked and re-worked and then re-worked problem after problem. Each re-worked wrong answer revealed that in fact, he was not understanding the lesson. (Some might blame the teacher. Probably valid.)
Normally, I would sigh deeply, groan, and then raise my voice in a high-pitched nag and fiercely re-teach the lesson. (I also often wonder if a teacher who is spoiled with a quick-learning student fails to appreciate the art of patiently re-teaching. Never fear. I have a daughter providing me many an opportunity to re-teach...and re-teach...and re-teach.) Anyway, today, I decided to change my traditional, over-reactive, over-emotional approach and throw him a long-term vision.
"This is called perseverance. I'm proud of you for persevering through this difficult task right now. Your entire life you will have to persevere through something you don't like or you don't understand, and this is your training ground for that. Perseverance produces character, and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us." I thought inserting the scripture in Romans about perseverance was a nice touch.
Never one to mince words, he looked me straight in the eye and said,
"Well, I think perseverance sucks!"
It does kind of feel like it sucks at the time, doesn't it?
Perseverance when you want to quit.
Perseverance when you are facing a storm.
Perseverance when there seems to be no answer.
Perseverance when the answer isn't what you want.
Perseverance when there's something else you'd rather be doing.
Perseverance when breathing is just so hard.
Perseverance when you are just plain tired of waiting for Jesus to come back.
God's word says in Romans 5:3-5, "We rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And HOPE does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us."
Perseverance feels like it sucks, but when you read that verse, my soul cries out for the strength to persevere. If we take God at His word, perseverance develops our character. The development of our character leads to our hope. And God's word says that this HOPE---hope in Him---won't disappoint us because this hope is not based on anything temporary. That's the hope that I want. The hope that is never disappointed because it is placed on something that cannot be taken away.
If working through silly math problems is one step in my son's journey of perseverance, then I'm thankful for the struggle for him. Someday, he'll have to persevere through something much more grand than the circumference of a semi-circle. This is his training ground.
Teach him, Lord, to persevere.
And I could use some refreshment in this area, too.
Because my heart's cry is often the same as his...