Endurance Can Speak Volumes About Faith

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My stomach didn’t feel right. It wasn’t long afterwards that something I caught or ate fully manifested itself. The worst of it gradually subsided over the next four days. However, new symptoms appeared. I was very hungry. I was tired of being lethargic. I longed for the motivation to accomplish something on my to-do list. I was bored of daytime television. Plain and simple, I was grumpy!

I knew this detour of sickness would be short-lived and minor in the big picture of my life. Why is it so hard to endure when I am in the midst of troubling circumstances? Why do I struggle to gracefully handle a couple of bad days?

I want to be one that rises to the occasion and follows the examples shared in the Bible of how to endure suffering. Jesus knew the depths of suffering, punctuated by separation from His Father, yet never sinned. Once Paul had a personal encounter with Jesus, his life became very messy with opportunities seized to glorify God. Endurance can speak volumes about one’s faith.

Maybe you are like me and still learning how to endure joyfully. God uses our circumstances to remind us that He will never leave us nor forsake us. May the experiences we would rather avoid draw us closer to God’s heart.

The following principles have helped me to strive for endurance with patience and joy.

1) Embrace Suffering:

Or perhaps more aptly described: give into it. There are times when we are to put everything else on hold and focus on the suffering in order to rest and heal.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven. (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

2) Make the Most of Suffering

Suffering is oftentimes the best platform to share our faith. People are paying attention to your life and want to know the reason for your hope.

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and  respect. (1 Peter 3:15)

3) Pace Yourself

Rely on God’s grace for your good and remove your expectations. We are to desire more of God’s agenda and less of ours.

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39)

4) Reach Out to Others

Ask for prayers. We can’t endure in our own strength as life is too hard. Victory comes through our prayers and the prayers of others.

As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. (Exodus 17:11-12)

5) Keep Praising God

Worship fixes our eyes on Him, softens our hearts to receive, and causes joy to well up from deep inside.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

6) Trust God

We don’t have to figure it all out to endure. Rather, we trust that God has it all figured out and is using our circumstances for His good.

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. (Genesis 50:20)

 

 

 

It Leaks Just a Little

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One of the perks of being empty-nesters is that my husband and I each get our own bathroom. My husband’s shower stall leaked just a little. He caulked the outside of the shower stall and the corners inside the shower stall. It still leaked. He disassembled the door and the side panel to clean out every joint before reassembling and re-caulking. He caulked the interface between the drain and the bottom of the shower stall. It still leaked. With hope for a fix waning and a magnifying glass in hand, my husband inspected the joints between the individual tiles lining the shower stall. Lots of tiles and lots of joints to inspect. My husband finally found the source of the leak. Even a tiny hole was too big and resulted in grief.

I see the analogies in faith. Even a little sin is too much in God’s eyes. We can try to work out salvation on our own, but we can’t stop the leaks of sin into our lives. We have too many holes, many of which are insidious. We need real help for a permanent fix. Thank goodness God is just a call, er… a prayer away. On the cross, Jesus Christ traded his holiness for our unholiness. By putting our faith in Jesus, even just a little faith, we can recognize the sin in our lives and realize the only solution that works. Salvation is free of charge and guaranteed for eternal life by God. For the workmanship was done by God’s best and the cost was bore by his one and only Son.

 

1 Peter 3:18

For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit,

Luke 17:6

He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.”

Blowing in the Wind

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From the window, my husband caught a glimpse of paper flying by. Our recyclables sailed over our lawn and on down the street. The wind had knocked over our recycling can and was in the process of emptying it. We ran outside and surveyed the situation. Our recyclables were lying on the street, tucked into neighbors’ landscape, clinging to fences and littering lawns. Not the type of introduction we wanted as the newest neighbors. We ran after the recyclables and traipsed through our neighbors’ yards. It was not fun, but it was the right thing to do. That morning, my Bible study was on 1 Peter 3. Verse 14 came to mind, “But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed.” I’m not saying that we “suffered” for chasing after our recyclables during a wind advisory. Nonetheless, the principle of that verse applied to our situation. We did the right thing. We could have ignored the recyclables that were now trash in our neighbors’ yards. How would they know it was us? It wasn’t our fault, the wind was crazy that morning. The paper would degrade over time. Lots of excuses to not do the right thing. What were the blessings? I met a new neighbor for the first time when I asked permission to enter her fenced-in backyard. It was a good reminder to be careful what I put in the recyclables. You never know where your “name” may end up. It prompted us to figure out a way to keep the can closed and secure. It was a legitimate mini-workout with wind resistance. Doing right more often than not, requires more of us: more time, more energy, more money and so forth. The bottom line is that doing right will cost us something. However, the cost and the suffering is not to be our focus. The resulting blessings of doing right serve as our hope and our motivation to persevere. It is Jesus’s way. It is our way as followers of Jesus.

 

1 Peter 3:14

But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.”

Hebrews 10:36

You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.