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When one thinks about the power of God, often
what first comes to mind are the miraculous signs and wonders God has
performed, as through Moses and the judges and the prophets. One may
consider the miracles of Christ, or the acts of the apostles, or the
mighty works of the Holy Spirit throughout the history of the church and
in our own time, and desire to be touched by a display of that power.
But as wonderful and desirable as these obvious demonstrations of God's
power are, let us not overlook and neglect the following manifestation
of the power of God which Paul prays we all would experience:
. . . strengthened with all power, according to His glorious
might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and
patience . . . (Col. 1:11 NASV).
Steadfastness is the Greek word hupomone, also translated as
endurance and perseverance (NAS) and as patience (KJV). Literally it
means to remain or abide (meno) under (hupo). This
definition suggests not avoiding or running from the challenges and
pressures of life, but staying and obeying God. Thayer's lexicon says
steadfastness is the quality of patient endurance and continuance in a
person who does not swerve from his deliberate purpose and faith even in
the greatest trials and sufferings.
Steadfastness is hope in action (1 Thessalonians 1:3). It is rooted in our
anticipation and confidence that the full ramifications of Jesus'
resurrection from the dead will indeed unfold over time. In this hope,
the Holy Spirit challenges us to stay put and do God's will in the face
of tribulation (Romans 5:2-4), besetting sin (Hebrews 12:1), suffering (2 Corinthians
1:6), persecution (2 Thessalonians 1:4), and affliction, hardship, and distress
(2 Corinthians 6:4).
We are exhorted to run the race with endurance (Hebrews 12:1). The prize
to be won is many faceted. Through endurance we gain our lives and
eternal life (Luke. 21:19, Romans 2:7). We bear fruit with perseverance as we
hold fast the Word (Luke 8:15). Through endurance, we approve ourselves
ministers of God (2 Corinthians 6:4)); we receive the promise (Hebrews 10:36); and
we are made perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James1:4). Not only
does steadfastness benefit ourselves, but more importantly, our choices
to persevere affect the destiny of others. Paul says: "I endure all
things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation
which is in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 2:10). We cannot foresee what might be
eternally gained or lost as we choose whether or not to persevere.
Because perseverance is so important a choice, and because it is no
small challenge, God promises to strengthen us with all power so
that we can attain to all steadfastness. Elsewhere Paul says
God's power (dunamis) is towards us who believe, and is surpassingly
great (Ephesians 1:19); and that His power works in us (Ephesians 3:20)
to will and to work for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13).
At a time
when one may not see the signs, wonders and miracles he'd like to, he
may cry in desperation: "Where is the power of God?" However, let us
remember that His power is with us at all times to make effectual our
determination to "abide under" each test we face. May each person who
reads this be encouraged by these scriptures to continue in the faith
firmly established and steadfast, and to not be moved away from the hope
of the gospel that we have heard (Colossians 1:23).