But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering (hupomone) produce a crop. Luke 8:15 (NIV)
The Greek word hupomone (cheerful or hopeful endurance, constancy, enduring, patience, patient continuance or waiting, perseverance) comes from the verb hupomeno (remain, abide, endure, persevere). Hupomeno is from two Greek words – hupo (by, from, in, of, under, with) and meno. Meno (μένω) is a wonderful word and is the root, heart, and strength of persevering and producing a good crop. Meno means to abide, continue, dwell, endure, remain, and – my favorite – continue to be present (I love this! You can be somewhere without being truly present). Jesus used the word meno several times when he said, “Remain (meno) in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5), and also, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain (meno) in my love. John 15:9.
Hupomeno means, then, to remain by, in, with, under – I like to think of it as the art of remaining present (continuing to be present), remaining with Him, by Him, under His wings, in the vine – remaining in the Presence. Because it is not from ourselves that the strength comes to persevere in trouble and suffering or even just in daily life, but from Him. It is only by remaining plugged into the vine that we can persevere – “apart from me you can do nothing.”
We know from scripture that God is always present with us. Jesus said, “I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20) and Psalm 46:1 tells us that “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present (or very present, exceedingly, with muchness, vehemently present) help in trouble.” The Merriam Webster dictionary defines vehemently as forceful energy, intensely emotional, deeply felt, impassioned. That is how God is present with us – vehemently, passionately (for nothing that He is or does is wimpy or lukewarm). Yet, we struggle to remain present with Him. We fight against ourselves and the distractions of the world.
Brother Lawrence wrote about this struggle as “practicing the presence of God”, and that we would meet with resistance from our flesh, but that we should persevere for the burden is light.
“He requires no great matters of us; a little remembrance of Him from time to time, a little adoration: sometimes to pray for His grace, sometimes to offer Him your sufferings, and sometimes to return Him thanks for the favours He has given you, and still gives you, in the midst of your troubles, and to console yourself with Him the oftenest you can. Lift up your heart to Him, sometimes even at your meals, and when you are in company: the least little remembrance will always be acceptable to Him. You need not cry very loud; He is nearer to us than we are aware of.”[i]
Alexander MacLaren called it “the consciousness of being in touch with the Father, feeling that He is all round us”[ii] — passionately, continually.
Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. Psalm 73:23 (NIV)
My thirsty soul longs veh’mently,
Yea even faints, thy courts to see:
My very heart and flesh cry out,
O living God, for thee. (Psalm 84: 2, The Scottish Psalter)
[i] The Practice of the Presence of God. Fleming H. Revell Co., 1958.
[ii] Expositions of Holy Scripture. Hodder & Stoughton, 1900.