Do you feel like you are enduring for endurance’s sake?
Or maybe you’ve been hanging on in there with gritted teeth for so long you’ve forgotten what you’re hanging on in there for?
Has perseverance and fortitude become part of your identity?
To be honest, many of us probably feel like that, at least on occasion. But as 2018 gets underway, I think it’s time to change our perspective.
Endurance has a purpose
At the beginning of the year, these verses in Revelation caught my attention.
‘Here is a call for endurance and the faith of the saints.’
‘Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.’
My initial reaction was, ‘What?!! More endurance? This year’s going to be tough!’, but later that week I found myself in Romans 5 and read these beautiful truths (italics mine):
‘…we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame [or disappoint], because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.’
Rom 5:3 - 5
The Greek word for ‘endurance’ in all these verses is hupomone, which can be translated ‘cheerful or hopeful endurance or constancy’. Endurance is hard work, but it’s not meant to be miserable; we are supposed to expect a good outcome – HOPE WHICH DOES NOT DISAPPOINT!
Hope shifts our perspective
There is no point in endurance for its own sake. It doesn’t win us any prizes or get us anywhere. When Paul, who wrote the letter to the Romans, was in prison, suffering all kinds of privation and abuse, he had his heart and mind set on eternity, on Jesus, the Hope of Glory. He lived what he wrote. Hope shifted his perspective, as it did that of the heroes of faith (Heb 11), and it can ours.
Life can be tough, and the challenges of 21st century life are very different from those 2,000 years ago, but truth remains, hope abides, Jesus doesn’t change. There is a bigger picture than anything we are going through. Jesus is longing with us for the reward. He demonstrated for us how to shift perspective:
‘Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.’
Heb 12:1, 2
Jesus walks the road with us
Jesus is so amazing! He presences Himself in everything with us.
‘If we endure with Him, we shall co-reign with Him.’
2 Tim 2:12 (lit.)
He is the Hope of Glory beside us, around us and within us, whatever we are going through. To quote the song Extravagant:
He never belittles our pain and our suffering;
He comforts us in our greatest unravelling…
He is the dawn that is breaking within me;
He is the sun that is rising around me.
So as Lord calls us to fresh endurance in 2018, He calls us to renewed hope – in His nature, His promises, His faithfulness, and the certainty of His love.
Endurance has a purpose. Hope does not disappoint! Let’s expect good things this year!