What is it?
endurance – the ability to withstand hardship or adversity; especially :the ability to sustain a prolonged stressful effort or activity<a marathon runner’s endurance> :persevering in suffering <the hardship required endurance>
Physically, we don’t like suffering. It wears us down. We get fatigued. We get tired. Anyone who has dealt with chronic pain will tell you that it goes very quickly from physically draining to emotionally draining. It’s just plain draining!
When we are wearied, we lose our ability to maintain a positive disposition. Our thoughts begin to get negative as we simply are exhausted by the fight. I know that even when I am just a little behind on sleep I have a harder time remaining positive.
I don’t have issues with chronic pain – though recently I have been dealing with a very sore shoulder that just doesn’t want to get better. Just in a few short months, I have gained a pretty clear understanding of why those I know who suffer from chronic pain tend to be a little bit elusive. (They don’t want to be around us because it’s hard for them to be their best selves.)
Ever just get really tired – maybe you’re just way behind on rest – and your husband or friend says, “Hey, let’s go see a movie!” Or “why don’t we have the neighbors over tonight for dessert?” And you get this major anxiety attack because the last thing you want to do is drag yourself out or expose your weary self to others! You know you are just not going to be able to smile and really express any kind of brightness, so you’d rather just stay home.
I get that.
The Word of God provides comfort for us in every area of struggle. What I find encouraging is what the Word says about endurance.
For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. Hebrews 10:36 (NASB)
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4
Consider it joy when we suffer? Really?
Nobody ever said God’s way was the easy way. (Well, some do say that, but they’re wrong…just sayin’!) God’s way isn’t always easy. In fact, I believe that it’s the tough road – but it’s on that road that we become tougher. We learn to endure. He is training us up in the way we should go! (Proverbs 27:6)
After a hard season, where multiple challenges seemed to heap up on me all at once, I came to realize something quite comforting. I realized that with every test, every trial, I was learning something. I was gaining a new perspective. Not only can I now offer comfort and compassion – patient endurance and understanding – to others who face multiple kinds of trials, I now see that those very difficulties caused me to seek God in a deeper way. I became desperate. I needed rescue. And I realized there was no rescue that was going to come from any earthly thing.
I came to a place of complete and utter surrender. I wish you could know how much I thought I was already surrendered BEFORE this season. I thought I had my faith well-intact. I didn’t think I needed any kind of deeper consecration. But God knew just what I needed. He made it very clear that I had much to learn about Him. Then He gradually began to show me how much He cares for me. This experience is what causes me to write. I want to tell the world about this God who is so precious! More than ever before, He made Himself real, near and dear to me.
When I first heard that verse…”You have need of endurance.” I thought. “YEAH! I sure do!!! And I don’t have it!” Soon after that cry of desperation, God showed me that Paul the apostle endured because he relied not on his own strength but completely on God. Listen to Paul’s words to the Colossians:
For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me. (NASB)
In my NIV Bible it reads like this:
I, Paul, strenuously labor, struggling in all His energy, which so powerfully works in me.
Man. When I first read that, it was at a time when I was so weary. I was out of strength for the fight. I was exhausted. I was beat. And it came to me like a sweet whisper…
DeDe, you don’t need to labor alone. Your struggle is my struggle. Rely on My energy – it’s within you. I am with you!
I literally questioned myself – I threw up a quick prayer, “Lord, am I really hearing you?” And as I shared in another post, my eyes fell on a book next to my bed, and I literally felt a nudge to grab the book. It came on as a compelling thought, “Open that Daniel study guide.” I did. And the page that it opened to had one thing circled, and one thing underlined.
Circled were the words: “Colossians 1:29″
Underlined: “struggling in all His energy”
I had done that study 6 months earlier. I did not remember reading those words by this time, and I didn’t know that verse existed. It came as a fresh revelation that completely comforted me in my anguish.
That’s the God I have come to know and trust. He’s faithful. He waits for us to look to him. He allows us to suffer, but His desire is that our pain be the catalyst for His purposes to be performed in us. It seems a bit harsh sometimes, but trust me, the harder your struggle, the more He cares for you.
Think of it this way: The sovereign God of the universe sees you as His child. Any good parent would only allow their child to struggle if that struggle was going to be beneficial. God knows you better than you know yourself. He knows what it is going to take to get you to a place of understanding. Can you look into your struggle and consider just what His purpose might be in it?
I have to say that this thought caused me to literally burst out with joy and laughter as I realized how beautifully He designed my circumstances to put me right where I needed to be. Now, I look at all that I have endured, and I see just what it is that He was pruning from me. I see how He has crafted me into a vessel He can better use BECAUSE of what He allowed me to walk through. I learned so much! I am wiser for it all.
And the sweetest thing – I can confidently speak into the lives of others who are enduring much. I can speak of God’s comfort and compassion from a first-hand experience – knowing without a doubt that He is faithful to use every bit of our pain.
…for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Philippians 2:13
Scriptures like this one mean so much to me now. He indeed works in us – and He has a purpose that will be fulfilled – a promise kept – through the trials that we face. They are specifically designed, perfectly crafted, to perform a work in us.
Trust Him with your pain. Trust Him with your struggle. Lean on Him for strength.
Listen to David’s songs to God over the hardships he endured:
It is God who arms me with strength; He makes my way perfect. Psalm 18:32
Isn’t that awesome?
It is good for me that I was afflicted,
That I may learn Your statutes. Psalm 119: 71
I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are righteous,
And that in faithfulness You have afflicted me. Psalm 119:75