THE VALUE OF ENDURANCE
…In troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love.
Because our college soccer season was in the Fall, Summer was the time to focus on conditioning. I’ll admit that I often lost sleep anticipating the fitness tests that would be administered during pre-season. As a goalkeeper, I preferred to dive and make saves, not to do sprinting workouts on the track. At the beginning of the season, practices didn’t involve playing soccer (it was never a good sign when we showed up for practice and our coach didn’t have any soccer balls). Exercise bicycles set at full resistance, treadmills set with maximum incline to test endurance, and running with required times were all part of the training.
I was thrilled to just finish in the middle of the pack. Not to be overly graphic, but I remember throwing up and then continuing the workouts. Pre-season was definitely not that enjoyable, but the results it produced were of great benefit. Have you ever extended yourself in a rigorous exercise program? If yes, how did it feel? Similar to athletic training, God can increase our capacity to endure trials in life. Jesus had joy in His sufferings because He knew the end result was worth the agony. Our character is usually refined far more in discomfort than in comfort!
What are some of the ways that God helps you and shows you grace during challenges? The apostle Paul was devoted to God but that didn’t mean he faced fewer obstacles. What kind of trial didn’t Paul face as he served God? As you read the book of 2 Corinthians, Paul is very open about his struggles. Each of these painful experiences proved to be a test for his steadfast decision to continue following God. Like the expanding stamina of an athlete in training, God grants you additional endurance through His constant love, encouragement, and presence. Look back through your life, what seemed impossible was accomplished through the strong, sustaining hand of God.
Read 2 Corinthians chapter 6 and learn about healthy endurance that can bring you through the darkest times:
1) True endurance resists shady shortcuts. When things aren’t easy, you may be tempted to lie, skip important steps, or take advantage of someone. Don’t compromise with something that will hurt you and diminish God’s glory in your life.
2) God gives us unique endurance for the different seasons of life. Each year of your life is different, but God provides for each stage and every set of new challenges.
Endurance is often connected with God’s redemptive purposes. It is often through trials that God will refine your character, rescue you, help you grow a deeper faith
, redirect you, or display His power through you.
4) Healthy endurance catches the eye of a watching world. How do Christians handle adversity? Your reactions and decisions can encourage people in incredible ways and point them to Jesus.
5) Don’t let pain close your heart to your blessings. Pain can try to isolate you from people who can help you. Instead, let other people carry some of your burdens. Stay open to God and supportive friends.
Two quotes to inspire us:
“If God sends us on strong paths, we are provided strong shoes.” - Corrie Ten Boom (survivor, Nazi concentration camps)
“Endurance is not just the ability to bear a hard thing, but to turn it into glory.” -William Barclay
1) What is the most difficult thing you are enduring now?
2) What are some possible solutions and wise options?
3) What do you think God wants you to do?
Romans 5:1-5. God builds your character with His love during your suffering.
James 1:2-4. Maturity happens when we choose to stand firm in our trials.
Romans 8:26-30. God wants to make you more like Jesus.
1 Peter 1:3-9. Genuine faith is refined through fire.
Psalm 27. Wait on God’s timing and don’t fear the future.
2 Thessalonians 2:13-17. Jesus will personally strengthen and encourage you.
My God, I commit myself to You. I pray today that I will trust Your plan and Your timing in my life. Help me to handle these challenges well. I look to You, God, because I can’t do this on my own. Grant me Your perseverance, Jesus, and help me not to lose heart. I want to continue to walk closely with You in spite of the pain. I ask these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.
For more from Pastor Jesse Bradley and Activate Media Ministries, visit www.activatelife.org