Many desire the Rose … but the way of the Rose is the way of the thorn.
January is usually the busiest month of the year for gyms and fitness centers. New Year’s resolutions have a way of jump-starting motivation for change. As humans we do not usually lack for good intention; rather it is determination and perseverance that are often in short supply.
While there may be many things we earnestly want, we know that more than desire is needed to turn such wishes into reality. Social scientists call it “grit.” Psychologist, Angela Duckworth in a 2013 TED Talk describes grit as “… passion and perseverance for very long-term goals.” She explains that even more important than intelligence, strength, opportunity, attractiveness, and finances is this resolute and tenacious quality we call “grit.” Those who have it succeed more often than those who don’t.*
Few people would argue the importance of grit in virtually every arena of life. Yet, it seems to fall out of view when we turn to the topic of faith. Grit? Isn’t that human effort? Doesn’t grit contradict our notion of grace as an unearned gift of God? Absolutely not! James speaks of perseverance as critical for a mature faith (James 1:4). Paul says we must press on to lay hold of the hope Christ has given us (Philippians 3:12). Jesus even talks about how spiritual fruitfulness is prevented when one lacks the tenacity needed to resist the thorny cares and worries of life (Matthew 13:22). So, yes, grit and spirituality really do go together.
Our hopes for a vital and living faith represent the Rose. Yet, for some reason, when our “desire for the Rose” is challenged by the thorns of life we often become disillusioned and lose hope. We hesitate to take the gritty stance of a determined fighter because we have picked up the mistaken notion that Christian faith is a passive reality—we either have it or we don’t.
No. Mature faith is gritty—it must be proactively worked out and persistent in practice. The Christian of gritty faith doesn’t walk away when God calls her to a seemingly impossible task. She gives what she has and does what she can … even if only a few loaves and fish … even if only a single baby step.
Yes, we need a gritty faith because … the way of the Rose is the way of the thorn. They are inseparable. So, this side of heaven, the life of the Rose is won only through a fight … and for this end, we’d be well served to pray for a little more grit. Next week, we reflect on how we think about our thorns.
What Do You Think?
What would it look like for you to practice a more gritty faith?
* To see Angela Duckworth’s TED Talk on grit, click here.
♦ To see the video and poem this post is based on, click here.