Happy Thanksgiving! As we pause this month to be thankful for God’s abundant provisions, we must remember and pray for those who are not particularly thankful this Thanksgiving. At all times, there are those who today will face difficult circumstances and overwhelming challenges. Indeed, we all experience dark days of the soul. The only answer to overcoming tough times is to hold on to God’s promises with a radical trust and uncompromising perseverance.
During the Second World War, Great Britain’s renowned prime minister, Winston Churchill, visited Harrow School on October 29, 1941. He came to once again hear the traditional songs he had sung there as a youth, as well as to speak to the students. His brief address became one of his most quoted. Churchill concluded by reiterating the indispensable characteristic of success: “Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever give up. Never give up. Never give up. Never give up.”
Church history overflows with examples of individuals who never gave up. As a Baptist pastor, William Carey (1761-1834) sensed God’s call to India. His distinguished 41-year missionary service in that part of the world got off to a shaky start when his passage ended up in the hands of the wrong shipping agent. Upon his eventual arrival, Carey was not permitted into the country. He was forced to take refuge in the Danish colony at Serampore. After years of translating the Bible into one of the Indian languages, he found that his assistant was leading him astray in the linguistic interpretation of the biblical words. Through it all, he never gave up.
When Carey and his fellow-workers had eventually completed the manuscripts of several Indian languages, they stored the only copies in a building. One night, the building caught fire and all the manuscripts were destroyed. But Carey did not give up! Because of his perseverance, when he died at age 73, he had overseen the Scriptures translated and printed into 40 languages. He had been a college professor and had founded a college at Serampore. He witnessed India opening its doors to the gospel. All this because he never gave up.
Commissioner (Dr.) Harry Williams received the Order of the Founder in November 2005. Today, at 95, he is a living example of what it means to never give up. For 30 years, the commissioner served with his wife, Eileen, in four of The Salvation Army’s major hospitals in the India sub-continent. He became an authority in plastic surgery and in 1970 was admitted to the Order of the British Empire. His illustrious life and accomplishments would take a book to document, and the maxim “He never gave up” would be an appropriate closing sentence to each chapter.
The writer to the Hebrews summarizes the foundation of victorious living by challenging Christians to follow the example of those in the past whose motto was Never Give Up! “Therefore,” the writer concludes, “since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1).
For those facing difficult days ahead, the challenge persists. Never, ever, ever, ever give up. Persevere. With God’s help, victory is just around the corner. Jesus’ promise is available and effective—“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Hallelujah!
Commissioner William W. Francis is the Territorial Commander of The Salvation Army Canada and Bermuda Territory. His wife, Commissioner Marilyn Francis, is the Territorial President for Women’s Ministries. Commissioners Francis have two adult children, Captain William Marshall and Susan Marjorie, plus six grandchildren.