from Rev. Bruce Wood - February 2018
Published in News First — our monthly church newsletter
you know who this is? I failed in business at the age of 22. At 23 I
ran for parliament and lost. At the age of 24 I failed in a new business,
however I was elected to parliament at 25. My long-term girlfriend died
when I was 26 and I had a nervous breakdown at 27. I was defeated in a
race for a seat in the upper house of parliament at 34 and was eventually
elected at 37. I was once again defeated for my parliamentary seat at 39
and again at 46. I ran for vice president at 47 and was defeated, and
finally elected President at the age of 51. Who am I? I am Abraham
an incredible story of persistence, and tenacity, and perseverance - and there
are many other stories of people who had not given up because of setbacks or
hardships - stories that give insight into the character of these people.
instance, Winston Churchill seemed so dull as a youth, that his father thought
he might be incapable of ever earning a living in England. Charles Darwin
did so poorly in school that his father once told him, "You will be a
disgrace to yourself and your family”. And Albert Einstein's parents
feared their child was so dull, and performed so badly in high school subjects,
all except for maths, that a teacher suggested he should drop out of school
These are people who have beaten the odds, who have overcome difficulties and
setbacks, to make a difference in our world. Some of them have been
knocked down and put down for years, but every time, they stood up, and had
another go - despite seemingly huge obstacles and often profound difficulties.
is not high on our list of important cultural values - which is unfortunate, as
many parts of life require us to persist - especially when times are difficult,
or we get knockbacks, or when life is challenging. A friendship will not
last if we are not willing to persevere when we disagree strongly about
something, and if we want to become better at a particular sport, or musical
instrument - then perseverance and practice are required.
is characterized by determination, will power, and grit. It’s a positive
and desirable characteristic in a person - and one that will allow us to achieve
much in life. Sometimes however, we can get so frustrated, or annoyed, by
the processes of our culture, or our life situation - that we either give up, or
scream out in exasperation. Unfortunately, all our frustrated cries, and
exasperated yelling, won’t really make any difference to a particular
situation - although it might make us feel a bit better for a while.
does make a difference, is if our pleas and the prayers of our hearts are
channelled into actions that make a positive change to our world? For
instance, if people tried to fob Jesus off with half-baked answers - rather than
letting them get away with it, he would keep asking ‘that’ question - you
know, the one you don’t want to answer - the question that seems to cut right
to the core of our being, and lay the truth out, for us to see.
never lets us get away with just saying what we think he wants to hear.
The vaguest hint, that our answer might be a pious platitude, or an automatic
response, or trying to smooth things over and deflect the spotlight, and he’s
back in our face - looking right through us, challenging our thinking, and
examining the depths of our soul.
Challenges and setbacks are the means to refine an idea, to improve a process,
or to polish a thought - something to be embraced and grappled with, rather that
used as an excuse to spit the dummy and give up. Jesus used the process of
challenge and overcoming obstacles as a means of teaching and refining the
ministry skills and perseverance in his followers.
add perseverance to your list of character traits, and know that God is right
there with each of us - experiencing our joy and our frustrations, feeling our
delight and our distress - all the time, weaving something worthwhile and
profound out of our pleas, our frustrations, and our prayers.
Rev. Bruce Wood.