“We live in a disposable society. It’s easier to throw things out than to fix them. We even give it a name –we call it recycling.”
Paul prayed that Christians might be “strengthened with all power according to God’s glorious might, so that you may have great endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father” (Col. 1:11–12).
We are called to a life of endurance empowered by Jesus Christ, and accompanied by joyful thanksgiving. Endurance requires patience, because reward for today’s right choices will come, but it may be months or years from now, or not until we leave this world. Those who tap their fingers waiting for the microwave to finish demonstrate that patient endurance doesn’t come naturally.
We should not shrink from hardship. We should endure it with patience. We are to follow Jesus Christ from start to finish, repenting quickly of our sins and moving forward in deeper devotion. Of course, there will be dry hard times, but overall, our path of spiritual growth will steadily rise higher and higher, not trail off so our lives end in a wasted lonely whimper, filled with regrets.
I read an article today about divorce, it said a study revealed that 50 per cent of divorcees have regrets about their break-up. Researchers found that after the dust settled, 54 per cent experienced second thoughts about whether they had made the right decision, with many realizing they miss or still love their ex-partner.
Who you become will be the daily choices you make.“The path of the righteous is like the first light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until day” (Prov. 4:18). This is why Scripture continually warns us against wrong choices: “Do not enter the path of the wicked and do not walk in the way of the evil. Avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on your way” (Prov. 4:14–15).
After all, our choices flow out of our hearts, and therefore we must take care to guard them from becoming impure: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Prov. 4:23). What’s the most effective way to contaminate a water supply? Poison it at its source. If you don’t guard your heart from the world’s values, you will be conformed to the world (Rom. 12:1–2). It takes no more effort to be conformed to the world than it does to float downstream. To be transformed by the renewing of our minds is to swim upstream against the current. Renewing our minds requires conscious, deliberate effort.
Endurance is Christ’s call to follow him, to finish strong for God’s glory. There is no higher calling, no bigger privilege, no greater joy.
A popular chapter in my house is Psalm 1 a powerful formula for endurance: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” Psalm 1 says the one who continually meditates on God’s Word “is like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither.” Trees don’t choose where to place themselves, but we do. We determine what our sources of nourishment will be, which in turn determine whether we bear fruit or wither.
We need to learn that Christians will face trials, difficulty, and suffering. I realize this is not a popular message. I once had a “friend” that measured everything in his life by blessings, thinking if it was of God all would go well and if it didn’t it was not of God. He felt that if things went wrong, someone was doing something wrong. He ended many relationships and a marriage because of this. He felt God would always provide even when he was being an unwise steward. I always felt sorry for him, because he was missing out on learning and growing from adversity. Enduring hardship is when the Lord is strengthening and refining us. He never promised us an easy life.
When we read Second Timothy, we get a completely different picture, than the easy life the world desires. Look at the many verses just in this short letter where Paul talks about either suffering or endurance.
1:8 – “be ready to suffer…” 1:12 – “I am suffering…” 1:13 – “hold on…” 2:3 – “Endure suffering…” 2:9 – “I am suffering…” 2:10 – “I am willing to endure…” 2:12 – “If we endure hardship…” 3:1 – “there will be very difficult times…” 3:10 – “You know…my endurance…” 3:11 – “I have endured…” 4:5 – “Don’t be afraid of suffering…”
Life will not always go our way. There will be suffering. Now, I do not believe that we in America are suffering anything close to what Paul or the early Christians suffered. I do not believe that we in America are suffering anywhere close to what Christians oversees are suffering, like in Muslim countries where they are being beheaded because of their faith, or in China where they are being imprisoned. We do not experience suffering anywhere near that level. Even though there are those who want to take Christians out of the conversation, to marginalize us, we still have incredible freedoms to speak and to share Christ.
How we respond to hardships shows our character. Our children pay attention when a parent loses a job, or gets a traffic ticket, or when both parents don’t get along and get a divorce. Your neighbors and coworkers are paying attention to you. Will you be just another defeated christian, throwing your hands up in the air when life doesn’t go your way? Or will you like Paul, look at the hardship before you, determine to get through it and keep your eyes completely on Christ? It may not be easy, in fact it probably won’t be. We may not do everything perfectly or even right, but when all is said and done, I want others to be able to look at me and say, “I can’t see how anyone could go through that and still be committed to God. That is a real faith.” Others are paying attention. Will we, like Paul, endure so that others might come to know Jesus?