Thornleigh Seventh-day Adventist Church (Sydney, Australia)

Home > Online Magazine > Online Magazine: Edition 49 - October/November 2012 > Pastor's Piece - Hanging-in There

Pastor's Piece - Hanging-in There

by Dr Alex Currie

Perseverance - Hanging-in there

Jews who were converted to Christianity in the first century encountered a real struggle.   Had they left Judaism with all its rituals and ceremony for something that was mediocre like Christianity?   One of the notable themes in the book of Hebrews is that of Perseverance.  Some Jews evidently were considering returning to Judaism which appeared more attractive.   The writer of Hebrews wrote to encourage Jewish Christian believers to hang-in until Jesus returns the second time, a great message for those of us who live in 2012!

Resilience, which gives people the ability to come out on top of life's challenges, is an important value for Christians to develop.   The very marriage vows we express in 'for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and health' etc, recognises that relationships encounter trials and crises and that families are not problem free.   Although approximately only 50% of marriages succeed there are values we need to capture, things we need to learn from those who have succeeded 'until death do us part'.

A key value in people's survival kit down through the ages has been perseverance.   The old saying 'If at first you don't succeed, try, try again,' is so true.   Children capture this quality from parents and older siblings as they grow.   In 1996 Lillian Rubin wrote a book entitled 'The Transcendent Child' (1) in which she wrote 'We must be able to fall down seven times and get up eight."   We need to teach our children to make the best in difficult situations, to stand firm and hold on.   One of the legacies my mother gave me as a young teenager, when she was dying of cancer was "You can do anything you want in life, with God's help."   Even although my father wanted me to leave High School and get a job, the belief my mother had instilled in me saw me finish High School, and receive several degrees including a Doctorate in Education.  The beliefs and values we hold equip us for a challenging world.

Many studies have been undertaken of people living in adverse circumstances such as poverty, racism,(2) the dehumanizing effects of World War II concentration camps, (3) and women being starved in the ghetto and concentration camp at Terezin in Czechoslovakia. (4)   The women in the last study met secretly to share memories of the dishes and recipes their families prepared for Jewish feasts and celebrations.  These remembrances were written on scraps of paper which were stitched by hand and hidden until the war ended.  Those women held on as long as they could by creating something positive in a very negative situation.  The endurance and survival of many of the people in these studies attest to instilling in people the value of hanging on and hanging in when the going gets tough!   We all need to learn to bounce back when things go wrong and life serves us up a failure or two.

Words in Hebrews encouraged Jews who were disillusioned and discouraged to hang in until the end.   Note these passages:  "We are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast." (Hebrews 3:6)  "But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.   We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first." (Hebrews 3:13-14) "...let us hold firmly to the faith we profess." (Hebrews 4:14)  "...take hold of the hope offered to us..." (Hebrews 6:18)  "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful." (Hebrews 10:23)  "...let us encourage one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching." (Hebrews 10:25)  "You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God you will receive what he has promised." (Hebrews 10:36)  "...let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." (Hebrews 12:1)   In Hebrews, to persevere is to live by faith. (Hebrews 11)

Remember the challenges we endured when we first became Christians - hang-in and hang on.  Remember when you stood up for your faith by some challenging you?  You held on then, keep hanging on!   Remember enduring ridicule, insult and persecution?  You survived then, so hang in now!    Some of you have lost jobs and your family finance may have been eroded, hang-in and hang on!   God has eternal life for all who cling to Jesus and keep holding on.  It is worth the struggle, so hold on dear friend.



(1) Rubin, L. B. (1996).  The Transcendent Child:  Tales of Triumph over the Past.  New York.  Basic Books.
(2) Butler, K. (1997, March-April).  The Anatomy of Resilience.  Family Therapy Networker, pp 22-31.
(3) Wiesel, E. (1995).  All Rivers Run to the Sea:  Memoirs.  New York: Knopf.
(4) DeSilva, C.  (Ed.).  (1996) In Memory's Kitchen:  A Legacy from the Women of Terezin."  New York:  Jason Aronson.

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