Persistence is an essential ingredient for success. There will always be challenges and we will make lots of mistakes in our lives. Persistent people are able to regroup and refocus. They have the creativity and the energy to try, try again. Persistent people have a better chance at success, but their persistence is not in isolation.
Take the story of Isaac when he was challenged to maintain a water supply for his family’s survival. During the first such challenge, a drought, he moved his family. When Isaac returned to his land, he searched for water. Isaac’s men opened new wells and dug again the wells previously opened by his father, Abraham. Yet, Isaac’s control of these many wells was challenged by neighboring tribesmen. So, Isaac moved yet again. Finally, the persistent Isaac dug a new well in Rehovoth that remained uncontested and a constant source of water.
Eventually, Isaac brings his family to Beersheva. The name Beersheva literally means seven wells. That name connotes that Isaac was willing to try seven times until he found a safe haven with a protected water source. And after Isaac settled in Beersheva, God appeared to him and blessed him.
In our lives, just as in Isaac’s life, we face challenges after triumph, there are stumbles after leaps, and we suffer losses after gains. After each trial, we may be blessed with the opportunity to acquire wisdom and restore strength. In this way, I see persistence as a holy endeavor. Staying engaged in this world, even when challenged, coopted or defeated, is an affirmation of faith.
As we learn from Isaac’s example, it may require digging again and again until we reach our goals. Persistence is also a demonstration of our faith in the potentiality of our efforts. Dig deeper and you may find something new.
Persistence requires more than patience and more than physical energy. In Isaac’s case, it meant conflict avoidance and humility. Isaac represents the faith of persistence. We can best acquire that faith when we see ourselves as God’s partners in this world.
Persistence does not exist in a vacuum. God commands us to care for our families and be responsible members of our communities, to be engaged in the world. True success requires that we need to unearth more than a source of sustenance. To settle into our success we must prime the pump of compassion, humility, justice, peace and, ultimately, Godliness.
Isaac’s lesson for us is that we can accomplish much with persistence. Even when the challenges keep coming, we can keep on digging, follow our passions, and remain caring of those around us. Like Isaac, we too may eventually find peace, comfort and blessings.
Rabbi Evan J. Krame