As I encounter people who engage people groups up close and personal on a daily basis, I am continually reminded of the need of “perseverance”. Their narratives and stories reveal a spirit to stick it out and not give up no matter the results.
Several years ago, a research study looked at people who had suffered serious adversity – cancer patients, prisoners of war, accident victims, and so forth – and survived. They found that people fell generally into three categories: those who were permanently dispirited by the event, those who got their life back to normal, and those who used the experience as a defining event that made them stronger.
This third set of people reminds me of the life of Admiral Jim Stockdale. During the height of the Vietnam War, Stockdale was held prisoner and tortured over twenty times over a period of eight years from 1965-1973. He instituted rules that would help people to deal with torture. The rules state that after a certain number of minutes, you will say certain things that give milestones to survive toward. When asked how he made it through those eight years, Stockdale insists that, “You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end – which you can never afford to lose – with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be!”
The third set of people never had a goal merely to survive but to persevere to the end. In the end, use whatever is before you as an opportunity to remake you great. This same principle holds true when it comes to crossing one’s own culture and working among a people with another worldview, another belief system and different cultural values. Just “stick it out”!!!