en·dur·ance [ in do'orənss ]
- ability to bear prolonged hardship: the ability or power to bear prolonged exertion, pain, or hardship
- toleration of hardship: toleration of prolonged suffering or hardship
- persistence over time: the survival or persistence of something despite the ravages of time
Sunday's message by Pastor Beaty touched on a word that is commonly used across both subject matters of this blog, ENDURANCE. The continued study of Acts, and specifically Paul's travels, centered on Acts 14 this week. It's here that Paul begins to demonstrate, and speak to, the idea that hardships are to be expected. In verse 21, his journey returns him to several villages (Lystra, Iconium and Antioch) that had plotted against him, created trouble for his cause, or in the case of Lystra, actually stoned him and left him for dead. However, he was determined to preach the Gospel and teach the early church of their need to stand firm in the face of these hardships.
Across scripture this theme is extremely consistent. Romans 5:3-5 and James 1:2-4 each speak to the perseverance that leads to hope and completeness. James tells us to consider our trials as joy because the testing will enable that very perseverance. Hebrews 12:7 says that enduring hardships are as accepting discipline, providing the training and refining that we need to mature. Finally, in 2 Timothy 4:5, Paul encourages us to “keep your head in all situations, endure hardship...” I think most of us realize that we will face difficulty through life, and it won’t be easy. Having the objective to get through it with grace, purpose and integrity, as described in scripture, is something that we / I probably don’t always think of first.
Pastor Beaty provided a thought in his conclusion that I really liked, “Present endurance leads to future fruit." He provided the example of Paul and many others, Adoniram Judson for example, that have impacted generations of people, long after their life had passed. The very fact that they endured those hardships when faced with easier decisions to "opt out," has resulted in that future fruit. Perhaps our callings result in far less brutal hardships, but the readiness to persevere should be the same. I think we should remember this lesson through our daily walk as our actions, attitudes and words do influence those around us. Determining to endure physically, mentally or emotionally in any situation will keep us sharp and provide a greater focus to our life's testimony.
Lastly, the comparison is obviously very straightforward relative to running. I finished a long run early Sunday morning and thought how it really never gets easier. The better shape you are in, the faster your pace will be. Ultimately the runs require the same, or greater, exertion and endurance. But, I also thought about how well this run was preparing me for my next goal. There is a reason that those running the half-marathon distance, or longer, are referred to as 'Endurance Athletes'. Results don't happen overnight, but through daily perseverance and the resolution to ride the ups and downs of training, there will be the success of 'future fruit’.
Make it a great day.