“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3-4 TNIV).

    “Careful planning puts you ahead in the long run; hurry and scurry puts you further behind” (Proverbs 21:5 MSG).

    Although our intellects know better, something about human beings continues to make us suckers to the idea of a quick fix. So entrepreneurial hucksters regularly come along with goofy ideas that garner millions. Then they move on and leave no forwarding address.

    Western obsession with weight and appearance seems to make us particularly susceptible to claims about products that promise fitness without effort, weight loss without sweat. One company made big money selling its anti-cellulite sneakers. Another touts electrical muscle stimulation and weight-loss water. People love to think they’ve found an easy way to their goals.

    Doctors and fitness experts tell us that healthy eating combined with regular exercise is the best way to slim down. One requires self-discipline, and the other is work. Who wants to pay the price of either, when there is a no-strain, no-pain alternative? Who doesn’t want to think there is an easier way?

    In other contexts, it is the person who deceives himself into thinking he can continue to drink after a couple of DUIs and a job loss. It is the one who tells herself that an “innocent flirtation” at the office means nothing. It is parents who refuse to take seriously their child’s brush with the law. It is a family trying to get all it wants with credit cards instead of saving. It is the person who won’t own up to responsibility and apologize for betraying a confidence and hurting a friend.

    Want to know why counseling doesn’t work for many troubled marriages?

It turns up areas of the relationship that need work over time. But immature and selfish people want a quick fix.

    Perseverance over time in pursuit of a noble and worthwhile goal.

    Want to know why so many companies fail? It will take too much hard work over too long a period of time to correct problems, replace incompetent people, and penetrate new markets. Lacking a quick fix, there is bankruptcy.

    Want to know why once-thriving churches die? Somebody gets hooked on the notion that spirituality is a new program or gimmick rather than fruit-bearing by the gentle presence of the Holy Spirit. So members go church-hopping again.

    One of the virtues that gets too little attention these days is persistence. Not stubbornness. Not “pig-headedness” and inflexibility.

    But perseverance over time in pursuit of a noble and worthwhile goal.

    It is interesting to me that the Bible places perseverance midway between suffering and character (Romans 5:3-4). There’s just no shortcut from one to the other. – Rubel Shelly