Staying in foreign and challenging places for decades takes a lot more than dedication, commitment, or hard-nosed human determination. It takes something deep and spiritual, something that can only come from a intense, intimate relationship with God himself. That kind of perseverance is a very special gift he gives his children that know, love, and trust him through all kinds of craziness.

I have a great friend who, with his wife and kids, has been a wonderful example of sticking it out through all kinds of challenging environments. He recently wrote some of us a beautiful letter about how they persevered, and I wanted to share it here…

Dear friends,

According to Romans 1, thanksgiving is the antidote to spiritual decline. I myself have been keeping track a bit, and I had neglected to realize that, during the time (an hour or two) that I am stilling my heart waiting for the Lord and preparing to enter into intercession with Him, my heart is filled with thanksgiving. It seems that the neglect of thanksgiving is also the beginning of – the giving up of “the knowledge of God.”

And what can keep a heart from backsliding (or sinful unbelief) better than heart stirring thankfulness.

Much of the future apostasy and deception is rooted in disappointment with Gd and the self-pity that immediately rushes in to fill the void, . . . the foundation-shaking void that is left in our hearts when we neglect to connect with our God in deeply moving –– thankfulness.

What is the remedy to discouragement? Thankfulness. Is there a remedy to self-pity? Thankfulness. How can a man reverse the decline of his marriage? Thankfulness (for the wife of his youth). From what deeper well-spring does the Gospel flow out to the people around us? A heart full of thankfulness. What guards our hearts from the pressing lure of the pleasures of sin? First of all: the pleasures of God’s own dear presence when we are drawn by His Spirit into a time of deep thankfulness.

For 30 years we have persevered. How? Why? Well . . .

When we sit still and say “thank-you” we find ourselves looking full into His wonderful face. And then we have to look back and not only thank God for the shirt on our back and the food in our belly, but also for the significant occasions when God lifted our hearts from despair. And when He delivered us from desperate situations or even death. How many times He has softened our hearts (and yours!) has turned us back to Himself with countless tender mercies! Thank Him!

Let us look back this season and thank Him! Thank Him!

Thank Him! For – No thankful heart will fail to persevere.

Let Him strengthen your heart this morning, or this evening, whatever time of day this little message finds you today.