Our minister writes a weekly column for our local newspaper, the Roanoke Beacon. Here is one of the latest columns.

Forty years ago, those victims of stomach ulcers had an uphill battle.  Doctors thought that the majority of ulcers were caused by stress, spicy food and too much stomach acid.  Patients were told to modify their diet and, if the ulcer acted up, eat soda crackers and drink milk to help neutralize the excess acid. Treatment sometimes controlled the symptoms, but usually didn’t permanently heal the ulcer. 

In the early 1980s, however, Dr. Barry Marshall became convinced that ulcers resulted from the presence of a bacteria, H-pylori, in the gastric system. When Marshall proposed this theory, other doctors expressed deep skepticism, asserting that the strongly acidic environment of the stomach would make it impossible for the bacteria to survive for long. Marshall joined with fellow researcher Robin Warren to test his theory.  None of the first 30 tests confirmed their hypothesis.  In each instance, the cultures failed to show any growth of the bacteria within 48 hours, so lab technicians destroyed the samples.

Then came a Thursday when the lab technicians were busy with other tests, and they forgot to dispose of the samples.  When the samples were re-examined on Monday, after 4 more days of incubation, they found the presence of H-pylori.  Marshall and Warren wrote about their discovery, submitting their paper to the Gastroenterological Society of Australia.  The reviewers turned their paper down and refused publication, ranking the research paper in the bottom 10% of all the papers they received that year.

Determined to prove his theory, Dr. Marshall drank a solution containing the H-pylori bacteria on June 12, 1984.  Within 3 days, Marshall was nauseated, and by the fifth day, he was vomiting. Repeated endoscopies revealed serious inflammation in his gastric system and a biopsy confirmed that the H-pylori had colonized in his stomach.  Marshall treated himself with antibiotics, and the symptoms disappeared. His experiment, published in the Medical Journal of Australia in 1985, changed the treatment of peptic ulcers worldwide and earned him the 2005 Nobel Prize in Physiology.

Dr. Marshall won the Nobel Prize because he was persistent. Marshall didn’t allow his detractors to sway him from his belief that peptic ulcers resulted from bacteria, not stomach acid.

Dave Longaberger persisted in business.  After repeating the first grade and three-peating fifth grade, Longaberger graduated from high school at 20 years old. But in 1996 the handmade basket and home-décor company he founded did more than a ½ Billion dollars in sales.

Author Napoleon Hill closely observed the work of both Thomas Edison and Henry Ford for years.  He wrote, “I speak from actual knowledge when I say that I found no quality save persistence, in either of them, that remotely suggested the major source of their stupendous achievements.”  Hill went on to say, “Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.”

Persistence not only pays off in business, medicine, science and industry, it’s a vital ingredient in spiritual success, too. Luke (18:1, NIV) notes that Jesus told his disciples the story of the Persistent Widow “…to show them that they should always pray and not give up.”  The Apostle Paul emphasizes persistence in his writings, telling the Galatians (Galatians 6:9), “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up,” and counseling the Thessalonian church to “…never tire of doing what is good.” The writer of Hebrews encourages persistence in worship and fellowship saying, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).

Discouragement ranks among Satan’s greatest weapons, and often uses the voices of those closest to us to deliver the blow. Friends and family may express skepticism, or colleagues may openly question our intentions and methods. Difficult circumstances and repeated failures might sorely tempt one to give up.  Fatigue can make us want to throw in the towel.

But don’t.  Don’t give in; don’t give up. Don’t ever quit.  Success might be hiding just around the corner, so keep going!

The Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:58, “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”