Endurance is one of those words that I call “sneaky.” It looks benign on the surface, but has a bitter center once you bite into it. It is a quality of character that we often admire when we see it demonstrated in others, but we are not so enamored with it when it is required of us. When you think about it for a minute, you don’t need to endure pleasant circumstances or things that bring you joy. No, it is the hard things in life, the unpleasant days (and sometimes people) that require endurance.
As I scanned a passage of the Bible this morning, a portion of a verse seemed to be in bold letters and highlighted (even though it wasn’t.) “For you have need of endurance…” (Heb. 10:36a) This set my mind to work and it didn’t take long before I was in agreement, “Yep…I need a big spoonful of endurance. There are some things, big things, I am powerless to change and I need help to get through this season.” What followed was a laundry list of things that are requiring endurance. I’m sure that if you were to stop reading right now you could come up with your own list of things that you must endure; things you wish were different or quirks in people that, if you could wave your magic wand, you would change.
The more I pondered endurance the more I came to realize there are some things I can change if I am willing to endure what it will cost to change. In recent months, after taking a good look in the mirror, I decided it was time to slim down. I endured two months of smaller portions and even a little light exercise. An amazing thing happened…I lost weight.
On the other hand, there are things we cannot change; the accident that finds you, the sudden onset of disease or illness, the reduction in force (such a nice way of saying you can no longer support your family), the required chemistry class with the teacher that is drier than melba toast. These are but a few; the list goes on and on and is specific for each person. Here is where grace is required; a force greater than ourselves to not only help us endure, but to get us through the season of endurance with joy. Now we are boring down to the heart of the matter. Will we endure with dignity, thankfulness and even joy? Or, will we give up, or simply endure with a scowl on our face and harsh words on our lips? Only God’s grace, his empowering presence, can take the sour center of endurance and sweeten it to such an extent that we smile while we endure.