The Sum of Endurance – {The Close of Day}

8

 

There is something that appears, on first glance, ill-fitting about seeing ‘rejoice’ and ‘suffering’ in the same sentence.  They do not really seem to be words that ease well into each other, complement each other or even seem to deserve shared sentence space.  It’s all in all, on the face of it, an entirely uneasy concept.

Paul finished off at the end of Romans talking about how we are justified through our faith in Jesus.  This chapter begins with what could be seen as the aftermath of that faith in this world.

Suffering.

Yet we who lead first-world lives in affluent countries, with modern conveniences, good healthcare, education, freedom of speech and access to many of life’s luxuries do not sit comfortably with the notion of suffering because our societies, communities, governments, media outlets are all telling us that our lives should be anything but marked with suffering.  Our culture encourages to find our help in any number of modern conveniences, establishments, institutions, and so reduce any kind of suffering we might endure.

If we suffer financially, there are endless banks and loan companies willing to provide short-term, expensive solutions to our problem.

If we suffer with our health, there are multiple free and paid for institutions to meet our medical needs.

We can change the way we look, the way we feel, the place we live, the office we work in – we have abundant opportunities at our fingertips.

But what can be our blessing can also be our disaster.  As we fight the waves of an entitlement culture chanting to us that we should, could, can, will, must have anything we want, need, desire in order to avoid suffering, if we’re not careful when we can’t change our circumstances we look pitifully inward and fail to see God’s richest blessing within it.

In these verses, Paul encourages us to remember that suffering is not the end.  In fact, it is just the beginning.

Endurance

 

This is the product of our suffering.  As we motivate ourselves to press on regardless of our circumstances, then this is what comes next.  We learn to endure.

Not long ago, I took up running.  When I first did so, I started by using a Couch to 5K app on my phone.  The early days were mostly brisk walking with 60 second bursts of jogging.  Well, believe me, those 60 seconds made me feel fit to burst myself as I absolutely panted to keep going for even a minute.  It was hard and it didn’t feel particularly good.  Then came the days when I just wanted to walk along at a gentle, meandering pace or (better still) just go home and veg out on the couch.  Forget the 5K, let’s just ‘couch’!

And to my surprise, as I just.kept.going I eventually made it to 5k.  I ran the whole way.  I could barely believe it.

When we press on, and keep going, and get up and go on, even on the days we don’t feel like it, even when it’s hard, then we begin to endure.  Maybe it’s undetectable at first, but the more we keep going, the more the habit forms.

Before we know it, we’re stronger than we ever imagined we could be.

SUFFERINGENDURANCE

 

Character

 

And with strength, comes character.

Our suffering can make use sharply aware of those who suffer around us.  We can help others, meet their needs, show compassion, love them.

Our endurance can help us motivate ourselves and motivate others.  When we adopt an attitude of ‘get up and go’ then the fallout is contagious.  We become cheerleaders rather than parade rain.  We become encouragers rather than moaners.  We become generous instead of miserly.

God cares about our character. He works on us, shapes us, moulds us, to make us more like Jesus.

 

Hope

 

And finally we have hope.

Our trial has made us press forward, our determination shapes who we are, and as we see the work of God in our lives, we have hope.

What started out as suffering is in fact a powerful reminder of God at work in our lives, unfolding his purposes in us and through us.

For some of us, our trouble may pass.

For others, we harbour a suffering that will last a lifetime.

But whatever our journey, God wants us to endure, grow and trust.

 

Thoughts for reflection

 

  • In what areas are you suffering today? How can you see God at work in and through it? If you can’t ask him to show you.
  • What do you do to help you endure? What advice would you give to someone to help them press on?
  • What aspects of your character do you think God is working on?

 

Grace and Love

Helen x

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