“What I have found is that in my pastoral disappointments and discouragements there is a great power for perseverance in keeping before me the life of a person who surmounted great obstacles in obedience to God’s call by the power of God’s grace. I need this inspiration from another century, because I know that I am, in great measure, a child of my times.
And one of the pervasive marks of our times is emotional fragility. It hangs in the air we breathe. We are easily hurt. We pout and mope easily. We blame easily. We break easily. Our marriages break easily. Our faith breaks easily. Our happiness breaks easily. And our commitment to the church breaks easily.
We are easily disheartened, and it seems we have little capacity for surviving and thriving in the face of criticism and opposition. A typical emotional response to trouble in the church is to think, If that’s the way they feel about me, then I’ll just find another church.
We see very few healthy, happy examples today whose lives spell out in flesh and blood the rugged words, ‘Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds’ (James 1:2). When historians list the character traits of America in the last third of the twentieth century, commitment, constancy, tenacity, endurance, patience, resolve, and perseverance will not be on the list.
The list will begin with an all-consuming interest in self-esteem. It will be followed by the subheadings of selfassertiveness, self-enhancement, and self-realization. And if we think that we are not children of our times, let us simply test ourselves to see how we respond when people reject our ideas or spurn our good efforts or misconstrue our best intentions.
We all need help here. We are surrounded by, and are part of, a society of emotionally fragile quitters. The spirit of the age is too much in us. We need to spend time with the kind of people— whether dead or alive—whose lives prove there is another way to live.
Scripture says, be ‘imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises’ (Hebrews 6:12). So I want to hold up for us the faith and the patient endurance of Charles Simeon for our inspiration and imitation.”
–John Piper, The Roots of Endurance (Wheaton: Crossway, 2006), 79-80.