Those Who Persevere

Perseverance is a value we see in the Bible often, although not necessarily using that precise word. It occurs most often in the context of suffering or hard work. Think of Noah, continuing the labor of building the ark in the face of scoffers. Then there is Jacob, working year after year to win his beloved.

Jesus tells us to persevere in prayer, even when we do not seem to get answers. Near the end of his earthly life, he warns his disciples of the hardships they will face, then tells them that their perseverance will win them their lives.

The book of Romans is full of references to perseverance: “tribulation brings perseverance; perseverance strengthens character” (5:3-4). “We have hope through perseverance and the encouragement of Scriptures” (15:4). And more.

Perseverance in Fiction

How do children gain an appreciation of perseverance in a world that pulls them in many directions and is always offering something new and distracting? Here are a few book ideas.

Quilt of Dreams, by Mindy Dwyer, tells of a girl grieving her grandmother’s death. She and her mother discover in her grandmother’s sewing kit a bundle of triangles labeled for making a quilt. Together, the girl and her mother work on creating a quilt, which is a long and sometimes difficult process. While doing so, they share many warm memories.

In A Visitor for Bear, by Bonny Becker, a bear is a loner, keeping visitors out. A persistent mouse keeps popping up and suggesting tea or a snack or just to sit together by the fire. The bear eventually gives up, and they have tea by the fire. And the bear discovers that he likes company.

Biographies of Persevering People

There are a number of people who personify perseverance. Lucy Maud Montgomery, author of the Anne of Green Gables books, had to try many times to get her first book published. She also had to work hard to find time to write at all and had to persevere to get fair treatment from her publisher. Her story is well told in a book by Alexandra Wallner.

An easy biography of Susan B. Anthony by Deborah Hopkinson tells of the long struggle to win the right to vote for women. It would have been easy for Anthony and others to give up, but they continued, enduring much hardship.

I had the privilege of going to a Methodist youth conference when I was a teenager and hearing Howard Thurman. I will never forget his deep voice and aura of holiness, and I continue to treasure his writings. In Howard Thurman’s Great Hope, Kai Jackson Issa tells of his determination to finish school—most black children in Florida, where he grew up, were only educated through seventh grade in the early twentieth century—with the principal giving him rigorous private schooling. A doctor recognized his intelligence and paid for his high-school education. Hard work, prayer, and an “angel” helped him go on to college.

Kathie Johnson has always had a love for children's books. She collected many as a teacher and began sharing them with other teachers. In 1986, she opened a children's library in her home, and it has continued to expand over the years. Many home-schooled and schooled children borrow books from it, and she takes great pleasure in finding the "right" book for a child. She attends First Presbyterian Church in Berkeley.

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