We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:1-5
Perseverance produces character. I think of one unobtrusive woman who lived during the holocaust. I will use her as an example of perseverance and character, because she received very little recognition for the love that saved over 2,500 children from extermination.
Irena was a Polish woman, who worked in social services during the 1940’s.
Because of her job, working with sick children, she was able to smuggle kids out of Warsaw, to free them from German persecution. With the help of others, she placed them in the care of Catholic families and foster homes. She kept a list of names of parents of these children in jars, which she hid. She was captured by the Gestapo, and her arms and legs were broken, but still, she would not reveal the names of the children or their whereabouts.
She was sentenced to death, but through the help of a man who bribed a guard, she escaped execution, and hid until the war was over. Her story is fascinating, and well worth reading.
This is a woman who had character. Love forced her to act when the times were evil. She was dedicated to helping babies and young children, even though it meant she might be killed. She acted with courage at a time when many were cowardly.
Perseverance does produce character. Even though Irena was later nominated for a Nobel peace prize, she did not get it. I am sure she is experiencing that great peace prize in Heaven — a crown with many jewels. She was priceless!
Dear Lord, help us to persevere in the midst of great trials. Help us not to shrink back from helping where we can. Help us to be “love in action”. Give us wisdom to know how to help others, and the knowledge that comes from You. Help us to give grace, mercy, and forgiveness, and to keep our eyes on the true prize — our great reunion with You, our Heavenly Prize.