The Power in Persistence

When you hear the name “Abraham Lincoln”, what word comes to your mind to describe him? Maybe it’s one of these: Brave. Leader. Honest. Caring. But you know what word was used to describe Lincoln back in the early to mid 1800’s?

Loser. As in, ‘Nice try but you failed. Again.’

This was a man besieged by defeat and difficulty. Raised in poverty, he was still able to establish two different businesses. Both failed. The death of his fiancee, Anne Rutledge, drove him to a total nervous breakdown. He spent six months in bed.

And that’s not all. He ran for eight public offices including Congress, Speaker of the State Legislature, Senator and a Vice Presidential nomination. He lost each one. Don’t you think at some point he would have looked at all this loss and thought, “Is God trying to tell me something?”

But the faith he had in himself and his goals was so deep, he just kept getting up every single time he failed. Somehow he knew he was born to serve, and loss was not going to hold him back. 

He had the gift of persistence.

It’s a quality that all creative, inventive people share. No new process, product or theory just ‘pops’ out of the brain fully formed. Ultimate success requires endless cycles of trial and error.  Thank goodness for scientists who have the tenacity and patience to continue looking for solutions that often take years to find.

Failure doesn’t stop them, they just consider it another form of feedback.

Mr. Lincoln treated every rejection as a lesson, just like a careful scientist. Failure made him the most persistent, dogged, determined person on the planet. And you know what? That was exactly the kind of person the United States needed in 1860. God wasn’t about to send some weak, wimpy politician to face the horrors of the Civil War. He needed the person he chose and prepared for that job. Abraham Lincoln. The man who wouldn’t give up.

Kind of makes you wonder…

Have there been times in your life that have been dark and hard? Times when you felt lost, alone or defeated? Probably more than once. Our Father knows that you will experience loss and hardship, but he definitely doesn’t want you to be crushed by it. Oh no, he’s got big plans for you. Failure isn’t the end of your story.

Where we see loss, God sees opportunity. Our missteps become a powerful training ground in persistence. Every experience of falling and rising tempers our souls, allowing us to become the ‘polished arrow’ God needs us be.

Honestly, every person who has done anything of value has met failure. At the time, it seems like something to be mourned. But like every inventor and scientist learns, losses lead to new solutions and new life.

So remember. Falling isn’t failing. Rise up and try again. You need to be on your way. As Mr. Lincoln found out, there’s victory in your future…


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56 thoughts on “The Power in Persistence

  1. Well done, my friend, well done! So true of Lincoln! I love his biography and his success and assassination often get in the way at looking at what went beneath to create the foundation of this man who risked so much and was unwilling to compromise to assure emancipation and a union that would not be destroyed.

    • Hi Pam! Thank you for your kind words, I appreciate them!

      Reading about how much this man overcame was really a revelation. I had no idea. But there he was, refusing to give up, and really inspiring many. What a life!

      Have a restful night,

  2. What a powerful post….there are no words to tell you how much I needed this right now! I loved this whole post, and one of the lines that stood out to me most was this…”Failure doesn’t stop them, they just consider it another form of feedback.” Thank you for sharing what God placed on your heart, sweet friend. I hope today has been a good day for you. Praying for you!

    • Hi Cheryl! Thank you for your kind words about the post Cheryl. I really liked the concept of failure being one of feedback. Not something that should end the story, but advance it.

      Thank you for your prayers, you know I cherish them. I’m praying for you too 🙂

  3. Hi Ceil, this is such an inspiring post! It is all in the way we look at things, isn’t it? When we fall or fail, we can see it as a failure…or a learning experience and stepping stone!

    • Hi Linda! I’m so glad you found it inspiring. I agree with your take-away that failure is a place to start again, not a place to sit down and give up.

      What a life this man led.

  4. There definitely is victory in our future, Ceil, and we need to hang onto that. God’s promises will only ring true, and we must believe, in faith, that all will be accomplished to His glory.
    There are many Southern historians who have substantiated complaints against Abraham Lincoln, and for too many reasons into which I could go right now. Still, his example of wading it through the tough and defeating times in his life is a valuable lesson to us all. We cannot wane, nor can we give up this country founded upon Biblical values. This country, for God’s sake, must prevail!
    Blessings, my friend!

    • Hi Martha! Using a political figure as an example is fraught, I realize that. But I’m so glad that you can see past the complaints, and see how Mr. Lincoln could also be an inspiring figure.

      God is interested in our success, and will help us get back up after failures. We are the blessed ones for sure.
      Have a peaceful night,

  5. I will always use the word honest in the same sentence as Abraham Lincoln. Now after reading this I have a different perspective. I love the word persistence and it is a word I hope others will use to describe me. It means I didn’t give up.

    God never gives up and we should not give up on ourselves. Thank you for the story today and new perspective. Praying you have a blessed week.

    • Hi Mary! I have real admiration for people who stick with it through adversity. So many times, I think failure means I should quit. Mr. Lincoln’s life showed me that failure is a tool to get better, not an event meant to discourage me. I hope I can follow that thought more!

      I’ll join you in hoping that I’ll be remembered as being persistent too 🙂
      Monday blessings,

    • Hi Marja! So nice to see you here! Thank you for your kind words, and I’m so happy you could see it in your own life.

      Reading about Abraham Lincoln really helped me to realize the need for being resilient. May God help us all persevere in our daily lives.


  6. Inspirational post. Thanx.

    I did not know all that about Lincoln.

    I suppose Christ’s disciples and followers also saw loss and failure when He was hanging there on the Cross. Little did they know that in three days there would be eternal Victory.

    God bless.

    • Hi Victor! Such a great point! I wonder if I would have stuck around to be a follower of Jesus after he was killed… Sure looked like an epic failure, didn’t it? And yet, it was the road to a great victory.

      I hope I will learn from his great example. Being persistent is what makes me strong!
      Happy Monday 🙂

  7. Very inspiring! Especially for the beginning of the week. Failing Forward is a term I have heard lately to describe the way to achieving those God-breathed dreams. Judgement and criticism are fears that can hold me chained from moving to a place of failing forward. These stories work to transform our minds to victory thinking! Thank you!

    • Hi Lynn! I like the imagery of ‘chains’. I think failure is like a chain to me at times. Falling Forward makes a powerful statement too. When I fall, I feel out of control. But still, it can lead me forward in the hand of the Lord.

      Thank you for your thought-provoking comment today. Have a great Monday 🙂

  8. Well, ain’t this the truth. It’s way too easy to get discouraged and to throw in the towel. Fear gets into the mix and then we are sunk.

    Thanks for these encouraging words today, Ceil. Your thoughts are an excellent kickoff to the week ahead. For God always is inviting us to something greater, deeper, more substantial.

    May our mistakes not deter us from what He’s trying to do in us, through us.

    • Hi Linda! I love your last line my friend. God is trying to lead us to our true purpose every day. I hope I am walking step by step with him, not letting my failures keep me from my goals.

      Have a wonderful week!

  9. Thanks, Ceil, this is really encouraging. I’m sure there would have been moments for Abraham Lincoln where it would have been easy to give up, but this shows how important persistence can be. I love that God can teach us through our mistakes and failures too and work good from them if we let him.

    • Hi Lesley! I learned to love the message of failure = opportunity myself. What an inspiration this man turned out to be for me! So much loss, but he still persevered. I hope I can be more like that.

      Have a great Monday!

  10. Oh I love this! I love Abraham Lincoln and one of the holiest places I have ever stood is in the midst of the Lincoln Memorial. I also love (and need the reminder of) the truth that failure is actually good. It means we tried… we took a risk… we were willing to make forward motion without a guarantee. We learn most often from things that didn’t work out… we learn to readjust and to change a little here and there and to try again! Well, that is what we are supposed to learn, but in our success driven culture, sometimes what we learn is to stop trying! But look what Lincoln did thanks to his persistence! Great post, Ceil!

    • Hi Karilee! You make a good point about our culture. We do all love success, failure isn’t really talked about much, and certainly not seen as a positive. No wonder we avoid it!

      I think just changing a little can make a huge difference. It might just be enough to equal a victory the next time around.
      So good to see you here today 🙂

  11. Wow, Ceil! I love this. I always thought of him as “Honest Abe,” so thank you for bringing his persistence to my remembrance. You have encouraged my heart to remember “Every experience of falling and rising tempers our souls, allowing us to become the ‘polished arrow’ God needs us be.” Thank you. Blessings and hugs to you!

    • Hi Trudy! I thought the same thing. Always ‘Honest Abe’. But now I do have a new insight into his life, and persistence is right up there with honesty! Not bad, right? I wouldn’t mind being remembered for those two things 🙂

      Have a great afternoon my friend,

  12. Hi Ceil, I so appreciate your words in this post; it speaks to me deeply. During the long years (a process that I thought would never end), I worked on my Master’s thesis, I was most certainly persistent. Once again, I’m seeing where God is expecting me to be persistent, even if that means simply hanging on by my fingernails!


    • Hi Kim! It sure sounds like you know all about being persistent. Congratulations on your advanced degree (no matter when you got it)!
      You didn’t let the time or effort challenges stop you, and that’s how I’d like to be too.

      Keep hanging in there, and I will too 🙂

    • Hi Susan! Thank you so much for your Twitter love and share! You are such a supportive and encouraging person, I really appreciate it.

      I’m glad you liked the post today 🙂

  13. I knew Lincoln had some ups and downs, but I didn’t realize just how many. Wow. He was persistent! This makes me think of a quote I’ve seen off and on, it goes something like, “You haven’t failed till you quit.” Life is a challenge in many ways – so thankful God is faithful and holds us fast. Have a great week! 🙂

    • Hi Karen! I learned a lot in reading about Lincoln too. He really shows by his life that hanging in there pays off.

      You have a great week too! I enjoyed your interview at Susan’s 🙂

  14. OK, I definitely learned something new here today, Ceil! I had no idea that Lincoln suffered from so many setbacks. His persistence is admirable indeed. I guess it goes to show you that accomplishing God’s purposes requires our trust and perseverance coupled with God’s timing. I tend to give up too easily. Maybe a good adage should be, “If at first (or second, or twenty) you don’t succeed, try, try, try again, and then try some more!”


    • Hi Sharon! I think your new adage works very well! I often thought that failure meant I should quit. Now I don’t look at it in quite the same way. Failure can teach me a lot.

      I hope I’ll be as persistent in my life in the future!

  15. Thank you for the encouragement. I have had those times of feeling defeated. I have the Spiritual gift of encouragement and sometimes I can’t even encourage myself, I had a meltdown this summer but I found I was wrong in the thinking that led to it. Blessings to you and yours.

    • Hi Cecelia! I’m so sorry about your summer, but glad you found out you didn’t need to worry. I think encouraging people often don’t have anyone to go to when they are flagging. I hope that’s not true for you.

      I have often felt defeated too my friend. Let’s try to remember that the grace is there to lift us up again!
      Have a peaceful night,

  16. I have always loved Lincoln’s history. So encouraging and inspiring. Whenever I read more about him, I learn more. There is a great little book called Lincoln on Leadership – full of his wisdom, humbleness, and behavior. It is one of those books I reread periodically. Hope you are having a wonderful week!

    • Hi Jean! I’ll have to look for that book, maybe my library has it. Glad you liked the post too!

      It’s a good week. I’m back to exercise, which is always a good thing.
      Hope your week is going well too 🙂

  17. Encouraging post. Lincoln is a great man to study and emulate.

    God has a plan and purpose in our lives. Often we can’t see past our pain until we have moved past it. We must trust God and keep pushing on. Endure the hardships and trust that God is for us.

    • Hi TC! Thank you for visiting here today 🙂

      God does have that plan and purpose all picked out, and I wonder if I have made it infinitely harder to figure out by giving up. Or waiting too long? Mr. Lincoln helps me to see the power in persistence. If you know you’re doing the right things, that knowledge can muscle you through some really hard times.

      Have a wonderful Wednesday!

  18. Hi Ceil,
    I always think that what many people call failure is what, in God’s eyes, is stage 1, 2, 3 etc… of success. It reminds me of faith being the substance of what is hoped for. Success and achieving what is promised and possible also includes trials, perseverance, and total belief in it being achievable.
    God bless.

    • Hi Brenda! What a great point about the ‘substance of what is hoped for…’ I love that! Success is almost always a process, it doesn’t happen overnight. And you do need total belief to get up and try again.

      Thank you so much for your insightful comment!

  19. Dear Ceil,
    I love it, I love it, I love it! It such a simple encouraging post for me today! My husband also read this and he feel encouraged.
    This has been in my mind. As I am new here, I want to try something new and also afraid to be failed sometimes because I have no idea because all the situations but I won’t give up 🙂
    Thanks for sweet comment on my blog that made my day.

    • Hi Delvalina! That was so nice of you to share this with your husband! I’m glad you both were inspired by the post. I really learned a lot from Mr. Lincoln, he really knew how to stick with it, even in the face of failure.

      I’m glad we are connected again through our blogs my friend,

  20. Persistence…such a powerful hard to live word. Can’t count the times I have given up only to wonder what would have happened had I just persisted a few more times.
    Especially with exercise, cutting certain foods out of my diet, reading the bible through, etc. When I watch my grand children try and try again to learn a new skill or get that spelling word right it helps me to keep on keeping on. Great post.

    • Hi Betty! Believe me, I am working on persistence all the time. Maybe that’s persistence too? I can relate to the grandchildren thing, they are constantly challenging my level of energy. And of course diet too.

      Thank you for your kind words about the post. It’s nice to see you here again 🙂

  21. I did not know all that about Abraham Lincoln, you shared a very insightful post about never giving up! This was a very encouraging post, and a wonderful reminder about how we can continue on in spite of the trials and failures we may encounter along the way. Hugs to you today dear friend!

    • Hi Marilyn! I didn’t know much about the losses of Abraham Lincoln either. I’m glad it encouraged you too. How many times I’ve failed and just given up, thinking failure meant I should quit! Now I’ll look at each situation with much more discernment.

      Hugs to you too! Have a peaceful Sunday 🙂

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