Hang In There
January is the National Sanctity of Human Life month. Today is the March for Life in Washington D.C. Here are some comments from the March for life organization:
“As we kicked off 2022, we hoped against hope for a historic victory for the pro-life movement. The Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health case was heard at the Supreme Court last December, with the justices considering the possible overturn of the wrongfully decided Roe v. Wade case.
“We prayed and waited for the decision to be issued, and on June 24 (the birthday of March for Life founder Nellie Gray!), we joyously saw the Supreme Court return the power back to the American people to protect the unborn through their elected representatives.
“In the past few months, we have turned our focus to planning the National March on January 20, 2023, where we will be taking the ‘Next Steps’ and ‘Marching into a Post-Roe America’ (our theme for this year’s March for Life)!
“This will be the 50th annual March for Life, the first Post-Roe National March. We plan to celebrate, give thanks, and remember those who have gone before us and led the way to this historic moment in time, and to map out a path forward!” (1)
I’m sure you picked up on the fact that this is the 50th annual March For Life. That is some pretty significant perseverance! Galatians 6:9 tells us we will reap at the right time - if we don’t grow weary and give up. You may have heard the poem about 2 frogs:
Two frogs fell into a can of cream,
or so it has been told.
The sides of the can were shiny and steep,
the cream was deep and cold.
“Oh, what’s the use,” said number one,
“It’s plain no help’s around.
“Goodbye, my friend, goodbye, sad world,”
and weeping still, he drowned.
But number two, of sterner stuff,
dog paddled in surprise.
The while he licked his creamy lips
and blinked his creamy eyes.
“I’ll swim at least a while,” he thought,
or so it has been said.
“It really won’t help the world
if one more frog were dead.”
An hour or more, he kicked and swam,
not once he stopped to mutter.
Then hopped out from the island he had made
of freshly churned butter.
I heard this witty poem on the subject of tenacity over 40 years ago in a message by John Garlock, one of my professors at Christ For the Nations Institute. There aren’t many messages a person remembers 40 years later, but John Garlock had a knack for preaching unforgettable sermons.
Garlock also mentioned 2 Samuel 23:8-12, the account of three of David’s mighty men: Shammah, Adino, and Eleazar. Shammah had tenacity in the face of a humble assignment, defending a small plot of lentils from a group of Philistines. Adino personified tenacity in the face of overwhelming odds as he killed 800 Philistines single-handedly. Eleazar pictured tenacity in the face of incredible fatigue - after fighting for several hours, his hand had to be pried from his sword!
I rank perseverance and endurance near the top of my list of most important spiritual traits. And the longer I live, the higher it rises. “Hang in there” didn’t make it into the Ten Commandments, but it did into the nine fruits of the Spirit. The Greek word makrothumia, translated as “long-suffering” in Galatians 5:22 (KJV), is defined by Strong’s Concordance as “longanimity or fortitude.” (2) That’s what I said: “Hang in there.”
In this day of instant everything from “fast foods” to “get-rich-quick” schemes, to “four easy steps to answered prayer,” we are rapidly losing the character trait of hanging in there. We cook faster, travel faster, produce faster, spend faster . . . and we expect God to keep pace with us, especially in prayer. He won’t.
George Mueller, a great intercessor, evangelist, and orphanage builder in the 1800s, knew how to “hang in there.” One example of his persistence in prayer is related by Dick Eastman in his book, No Easy Road. He quotes Mueller as saying:
“‘The great point is never to give up until the answer comes. I have been praying for sixty-three years and eight months for one man’s conversion. He is not saved yet, but he will be. How can it be otherwise . . . I am praying.’ The day came when Mueller’s friend did indeed receive Christ. It did not come until Mueller’s casket was lowered into the ground. There, near an open grave, this friend gave his heart to God. Prayers of perseverance had won another battle. Mueller’s success may be summarized in four powerful words: He did not quit.” (3)
We, on the other hand, have mastered the art of one-liners in prayer and think if we give God a two-hour service once a week, we’re fairly spiritual. “Easy does it” might be good advice in some situations, but for most of life, including prayer, easy doesn’t do it.
A pilot, early in a flight, went to the back of the plane to check on the reason for a warning light. The problem was a door ajar, which flew open as he approached it. The pilot was immediately sucked from the aircraft.
The co-pilot, seeing by his panel that a door was open, turned back toward the airport immediately and radioed for a helicopter to search the area. “I believe I have a pilot sucked from the plane,” he said. After landing the plane, everyone was astonished to find the pilot holding on to the rung of a ladder, which he had miraculously managed to grab. He had held on for 15 minutes and, still more amazing, had managed to keep his head from hitting the runway during the landing, though it was only six inches away!
Upon finding the pilot, they had to pry his fingers from the ladder. THAT is perseverance! (4)
Anyone long associated with the church of America over the last 50 years knows that our problems do not result from a lack of information or provision. If we fail to achieve what God needs from us, it will be a failure of heart and spirit.
Like the frog, I have kicked and swum my way - often over long periods of time - to more victories than I have accomplished quickly and easily. I have fought until my hand clove to the sword, and, like the pilot, I have held on to the ladder until my hand froze in place. No, I haven’t always won, but I have learned, without a shred of doubt, that tenacious endurance is often the key to victory in prayer.
“Here’s what I’ve learned through it all: Don’t give up; don’t be impatient; be entwined as one with the Lord. Be brave and courageous, and never lose hope. Yes, keep on waiting—for he will never disappoint you!” (Psalm 27:14 TPT)
Prayer and Communion
Father, just as Christ persevered in the garden and on the Cross, we persevere in laying hold of what His sacrifice provided for us. He broke the back of death, hell, and the grave. He disarmed principalities and powers, making an open display of His victory over them. He canceled the certificate of debt against us and made us His co-heirs.
As we partake of Communion together today, we remember His victory over death. Through our Lord’s broken body and shed blood, we ask for forgiveness and cleansing from the sin of abortion. We ask for a resurrection of America’s corporate conscience to the evil of this sin. Awaken and transform our nation's thinking. Heal those who have been wounded by abortion. (Take the bread.)
And Father, as we drink the cup, we remember and declare the power of Christ’s death. We declare over the death culture in America: you will end. We declare over the abortion industry: the blood of Jesus will end your wicked hold on America. And we declare over America: Christ’s blood on the Mercy Seat is cleansing you of this wickedness. We thank You, Jesus, for Your cleansing blood. (Drink the juice.)
Portions of today’s post came from my book Intercessory Prayer.
James Strong, The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2990), ref no. 3115.
Dick Eastman, No Easy Road (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1971(, p 96-97.
Craig Brian Larson, Illustrations for Preaching and Teaching (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books 1993), pp 97-98.
Click on the link below to watch the full video.