When my husband, Joe, had to undergo open heart surgery for a failing valve, I learned the meaning and value of the kind of endurance that the Bible teaches. In addition to my own daily chores and responsibilities, I had to shoulder many of those that my husband regularly performed, and I felt myself being stretched physically and emotionally. As I turned to the Lord for help, He began teaching me how to practice endurance, as I sought Him daily in focused prayer and Scripture study.
The dictionary defines "endurance" as: "The ability or strength to continue or last - especially despite fatigue, stress, or other adverse conditions." As followers of Christ, you and I don't have to depend on our own "ability or strength" in stressful times; we can rely on His Spirit within us to empower and enable us to do whatever it is we need to do - and to do it all with a good attitude.
One of the dangers of failing to exercise endurance during stressful times is reaping the penalty of a wrong response. When hardships and heartaches come, we can be tempted to become angry, bitter, and resentful. We can start pointing fingers and blaming others for our troubles. And we can forfeit the solutions, promotions, and rewards that the Lord had in store for us, because of His promise to work all things together for our good. (Romans 8:28) The apostle Paul wrote: "We try to live in such a way that no one will be hindered from finding the Lord by the way we act, and so no one can find fault with our ministry. In everything we do we try to show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind." (2 Corinthians 6:3-4 NLT) The Lord wants to use our trials to reveal Himself to others by enabling us to display His peace and patience through them all. When people see that God is the source of our strength, they will be drawn to Him. And they will be more receptive when we try to tell them about Him.
The apostle Paul was a perfect example of someone who responded wisely to troubles and trials. It's no wonder, then, that God used him mightily, and that his testimony is still changing lives today. Paul wrote: "We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead." (2 Corinthians 1:8-9 NLT) You and I can stop relying on ourselves and learn to rely on God, just as Paul did. When we do, we will experience the resurrection power that lifts us above our circumstances, and enables us to walk in the victory that belongs to us in Christ.
The Bible reveals that we often need endurance in order to perform the will of God, and receive the fulfillment of His promises. "Do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God's will. Then you will receive all that He has promised." (Hebrews 10:35-36 NLT) Notice the word "continue". Many times, we begin following God's lead, and then we quit and give up before we reach the finish line. That's not the Lord's best for us. He wants us to stick with Him and His plans for us, until we attain and gain all of the good things He has for us. Right now, ask yourself what you stand to lose if you fail to practice endurance in the midst of your present difficulties. My prayer for you today is "that you'll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul - not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that He has for us"! (Colossians 1:11-12 MSG)
Prayer: Lord, on the basis of Your Word, I pray that You would strengthen me with all of Your glorious power, so that I will have all the endurance I need to do Your will in every situation and circumstance. (Colossians 1:11 NLT) Give me a heart like Yours so that I can treat people with Christlike compassion when I am in the midst of stressful times. Thank You that as I choose Your way and Your will, I will reap every blessing and reward that You have in store for me!
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