After more than 10,000 attempts at inventing the incandescent light bulb before he was successful, Thomas Alva Edison said, "Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up."
Perseverance is steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, especially in spite of difficulties or discouragement. Determination, tenacity and patience also are closely related qualities.
Many examples of this kind of resolve can be found in the Bible. Genesis gives the account of Noah who built the ark over the course of 120 years, surrounded by corrupt and contemptuous unbelievers. Moses led the hardhearted Israelites for 40 years in the wilderness. The Apostle Paul, however, serves as a superstar example of perseverance.
Paul's ministry, from his unique conversion to his tragic execution spanned about 30 years. During that time he took three missionary journeys. According to Christian History Magazine, he covered about 14,000 miles, mostly on foot. In two years and three months, under the ministry of Paul, all Asia Minor heard the word of the Lord Jesus, according to Acts 19:8-10. Throughout his travels Paul was constantly dealing with obstacles. Some scholars say he was stoned to death, but was revived and continued to preach.
Second Corinthians 11:24-27 describes in vivid detail the hardships that Paul endured: "From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness." In addition to all of this, Paul always had in mind a concern for all of the churches and the people he had won to the Lord.
Throughout church history, men and women have persevered for years while suffering religious opposition and persecution. For example, Martin Luther, considered by many the father of the Reformation, preached, wrote and raised a family over the course of 25 years, all while coming under the scrutiny of the Church. In modern times, some might consider Reverend Billy Graham a "hero of the faith,"Â� who persevered for more than 65 years. Reverand Graham preached Christianity to live audiences of nearly 215 million people in more than 185 countries and territories, and hundreds of millions more through television, video, film and webcasts.
For most people, getting through a day, or a week or a year is about all the perseverance they can muster. Working full time jobs, raising children and being involved in church and/or social clubs or activities fills all of their time. Perseverance is not limited to maneuvering through crises or disaster, but enduring the day-after-day faithfulness to get up and do what is needed, regardless of obstacles. As Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, said, "Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did."