“And the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.” Luke 8:15
I read this verse towards the end of my week, and it caught my attention because it reiterated the lesson of my week: endurance. It is with endurance that we bear the fruit of God’s Word in our lives. As I reflect back on my week, I am led to ask 3 questions:
– When does one need endurance? One needs endurance when the strain of life begins to wear on the soul. One needs it when you feel like you’ve been running the same lap of the race over and over without drawing any closer to the finish line. Endurance is needed when you feel like you have exhausted every resource available to you and drained every ounce of energy in your heart and body. One needs endurance when you’re overwhelmed with missing your loved one and you feel like it’s been years since you last saw his face.
-How does one endure? It’s simple enough to recognize the need for endurance, but how does one actually do it? One endures by seizing the opportunity to apply all that has been taught and learned up until that moment. One endures by reviewing how God has proved Himself faithful through prior darkness and previous trials. One endures by refusing to linger in despair or dwell on the aching of the heart. One endures by refusing to give up.
-What does endurance look like? I have spoken in generalities up until now. I know that specifics are needed to prompt application. This week I learned that endurance is not about an easy life. It’s about getting up morning after morning after morning, choosing joy, and trusting God to keep His word. As I proceed into the 7th week of separation from my Beloved I still experience waves of loneliness or incredible throbs of missing him. And in those moments I review each lesson I’ve had so far: lessons on relationships, on valuing time, on leaning into Christ, on gratitude, and on going deep with Jesus. Endurance also involves an awareness of pain that is greater than mine. I know of at least 3 other families that are undergoing separation that is two to three times longer than mine. I know of many widows who face separation from their Beloved for the rest of their life. I have much to be thankful for and little to complain out. Endurance reminds me to check my attitude. I am not the only one on this journey because I am not the only one in this relationship. My best friend is in this too. My attitude affects his. He is counting on me to be strong and live well. Remembering how much I love him and want to support him motivates me to endure until the finish line.
For those of us who are called to endure, we have the example of the One “who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the thrown of God.” It is unlikely that any of us face a literal cross, but each day we are faced with the challenges that seek to rob us of our joy and shame us with failure. It might be the large cross of a 365-day separation from your spouse; it might be a smaller cross of having to go to a new school in a brand new state; it might be the daily cross of a severe health issue or depression or an estranged relationship; it might be the life cross of living with bereavement. Whatever it is, we are called to endure.
Endurance is the call of Christ. He is the example of endurance and we are called to follow His example. As we endure, we encounter Him for He promises to trade our yoke for His. His yoke is the peace that comes from knowing Him and having fellowship with His Father. This week I learned that my lessons from summer school are actually settling into my mind and heart. I have learned that my attitude can either make this summer easier or harder on my Love as he goes through his endurance training. I learned that there are others very close to me who must endure much more than me right now, and I can be an encouragement to them. I learned that if I endure I can enter into joy!