Should We Always Persevere?

I had just finished breakfast and was reading the selections from Mark Buchanan’s chapter on Persevering from his book Spiritual Rhythm. The last sentence from the chapter stated that perseverance would save us from disappointment, every time (282). I stopped short and looked at my husband and said, “I don’t think I agree with that. It is not always good to persevere.” I was exchanging e-mails with a person who had been abused growing up. He had said he felt ok about cutting off the relationship with the person who abused him since persevering for relationship after multiple times of forgiveness just seemed to fuel the fire for more abuse.¬† I concurred as I had had a similar situation in my own life.

Cloud and Townsend’s book Boundaries supports this view. Forgiveness is commanded by God. Sticking around for more abuse is not. I know Jesus taught that if someone slaps you on one cheek you are to turn to him the other. That’s where the Scripture ends. What happens after the second slap? After the second slap, I would walk away and never return for another if I had a choice. This is not an automatic response, however. There are so many variables. If the slaps were destroying me and I had a chance to get out from under them–good choice. If the slaps were merely an irritant and I could see that holding out just may bring the person into the light, I may stay (like Ghandi against the British in India). Ghandi did qualify his stance, however, saying that you had to know your enemy. He knew the British could be shamed and that passive resistance would bring them shame and, ultimately, surrender. A truly evil enemy, on the other hand, would be unaffected.

Dan Allender comes to the same conclusion in his book Bold Love. He spends hundreds of pages making the point that some people cannot be loved into repentance. These statements come from the cover of the book, “Know the difference between loving an evil person, a fool, and a normal sinner; How to love an abusive person without opening yourself up to more damage.”

So I guess what I am saying is not to persevere until you’ve really sought the Lord about it and learned how to persevere the way He would have you persevere. Jesus came to teach us how to make decisions based on bold love so that not a jot or a tittle of the law was changed. Jesus’ love was not a sissy kind of love, however. Jesus’ love was courageous, dynamic and disturbing–the kind of love that demands death in order to gain new life.

Have a blessed day, Dear Ones,

Dawn

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4 comments on “Should We Always Persevere?

  1. These issues-boundaries, perseverance, etc. can be so difficult to discern how to do wisely and with love. As you pointed out, Dawn, Jesus’ love came in various ways, and His love was disturbing sometimes. I struggle so at times to know what the best response is to certain situations. Some things seem like love, then, after analyzing a bit more, another approach seems a bit more loving (or less) and on it goes until I am just confused. Then, when I finally do make a choice, I find myself double-guessing and retro-grimacing. I agree that we shouldn’t always persevere endlessly in some situations. Jesus even slipped away from certain angry crowds.

    • “Jesus even slipped away from certain angry crowds.” Now there is an example worth mentioning. Thanks for taking the time to do it, A. It is a very important point!

      Dan Allender’s litmus test for what is loving and what is not is “Does it help move the person toward their best self?” Sometimes those of us from outside a situation can see things more clearly than the one experiencing it. Doing what’s best for another, however, is usually difficult. I think that’s why love has taken on such a “soft” caricature; it’s easier not to get involved. The norm is to say a trite “Oh, you’re doing fine.” like everyone else and move along, especially in this day of Facebook and Twitter. Bold Loveis full of practical examples of real loving. That’s why I like it so much.

      Bless you, A.

  2. Thank you for sharing all this-and I like that litmus test. I have the other two books but I don’t have Bold Love. It sounds like something I could learn from, especially if it is full of practical examples. Those are so useful to me. It IS often difficult to do what is right for another-sometimes it is difficult for me, and sometimes for the other. Thank you, Dawn!

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