Have you ever run a marathon? I haven’t attempted a full one, but I have managed to complete a couple of half marathons (which were more than enough to convince me that a full one is not on my bucket list). It requires a lot of time…finding just the right shoes…learning how to set a sustainable pace. But the only thing that actually helps you finish a race?
Even if you haven’t attempted a physical race, living through 2020 into 2021 has been a different kind of marathon, for sure. A global pandemic, general unrest, cultural and societal division, a contested presidential election. The only thing that will help us put one figurative foot in front of the other?
In mid-January, while reading Paul David Tripp’s daily devotional New Morning Mercies (which I highly recommend!), I came across a description of God I’d never seen before:
The God of endurance.
In Romans 15:5, Paul refers to “the God of endurance and encouragement.” Is there any sweeter verbiage to hang onto in a relentless season with an unknown end? With a little bit of digging since then, I have found deep encouragement in looking at the idea of endurance in the Bible. Here are a few thoughts I hope will encourage you, too.
Endurance Is Defined by the Character of God.
The definition of endurance is “the ability or strength to continue or last, especially despite fatigue, stress, or other adverse conditions; stamina.” It’s sustained effort that continues regardless of circumstance. God shows us the very essence of endurance by who He is. Over and over, especially in Psalms, the biblical writers point us to the qualities of God that will endure forever. Forever. He continues on. Here are just three of those specific traits, with emphasis added:
- “For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations” (Psalm 100:5).
- “For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD!” (Psalm 117:2)
- “The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever” (Psalm 119:160).
Our Only Hope for Endurance Is in God
God always equips us for the things he calls us to—isn’t that such a gift? We’re never alone to make it work and we never have to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps in difficult seasons. In 1 Thessalonians, after instructing the church on how to live, Paul assures them their sanctification is guaranteed: “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it” (1 Thess. 5:24).
Tripp puts it this way: “Let me state it plainly: your hope is not to be found in your willingness and ability to endure but in God’s unshakable enduring commitment to never turn from his work of grace. Your hope is that you have been welcomed into communion with One who will endure no matter what.”
Endurance Has a Great Reward
All throughout the New Testament, believers are admonished to endure to the end—to remain steadfast in the faith until Jesus’ return. And, the rewards? Being made more like Christ (Heb.12:7)! Eventually, eternal life (Matt. 24:13)! Reigning with Christ (2 Tim. 2:12)! These are the things we are promised, if only we will endure.
Consider this encouragement from 2 Corinthians 4:
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
When we think about enduring now in light of eternity, indeed our current circumstances (as difficult as they may be) truly are but “light momentary afflictions.”
In a way that only God can orchestrate, I’m finishing up this blog post on a particularly challenging night with our three-year-old. It’s a night when my need to endure in loving, parenting, and disciplining our sweet boy has been highlighted in big ways. So, I need this final encouragement from New Morning Mercies more for my own heart than anything else:
“It is the grace of endurance granted to you by the God of endurance that provides you with everything you need to continue to be what he calls you to be and do what he calls you to do between this moment and the moment when you cross over to the other side.”
God is the one who will do it. He knows our limits, but he is the God of endurance!