“Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” - Hebrews 12:1
To be human is to endure. To be Christian is to endure with hope, purpose and victory. God calls his followers to persevere. That is to walk forward in faith, trusting God even when trials and sufferings come. We are to “run WITH ENDURANCE the race that is set before us” Hebrews 12:1, (emphasis mine). Perseverance is a godly muscle that we can flex and strengthen. Let’s do that today.
Today’s blog coordinates with chapter 9 out of Barbara Hughes’ book, Disciplines of a Godly Woman.
First, to be clear, when we persevere, we are not earning righteousness. We do not suffer as a way of earning our way into Heaven. The work of Christ alone does that. However, our trials do something wonderful in our lives. They mature us. They grow us up in the Lord and make us more “worthy of our salvation” (Phil. 1:27). In short, they make us more like Jesus, our suffering Savior (Isaiah 53).
James tells us that this sanctifying work should bring us joy because this “testing of [our] faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that [we] may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:3-4. God is helping us to become perfectly steadfast in him, that means we will be unwavering. What an awesome condition - to be so strong in the Lord that no storm can bend us. Whether that is a tsunami of sudden tragedy or the squalls of daily motherhood. God is using the weathering of life to make us beautiful. He is turning us into a vessel for noble use, his use.
This brings us to the primary reason we are to endure - for the spread of the gospel message. When you persevere through trials with hope and joy it shouts an amazing message to the world. That message is - Jesus is worth it! Your display of peace and grace while surrounded by turmoil shines the light of Jesus into a dark world. You become a beacon pointing to hope and life beyond what the world can offer. In the words of Jesus, “I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father.” John 14:31.
Finally, God calls us to persevere in life because through difficult times, we grow closer to him. In the midst of adversity, our faith grows. We learn to trust God to be God. We find that he really is all he says he is. “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.” Psalm 119:71. God will graciously strip away all else in our lives to teach us to depend on him. He leads us to discover the earth shaking reality that Jesus is our everything.
We now know why we are to persevere, but how are we persevere? The answer is through Christ. To live in hope and not fear, we must first be born again and know Jesus as our savior. Then we must understand that he does the holding and keeping. We are called to persevere, but God causes us to persevere. We are not strong enough in our own flesh to deal with all that life throws at us. Jesus is. When you want to crumble and give up, remember Jesus, “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross.” Hebrews 12:2. Jesus endured and his Spirit within you will help you endure too. There is joy ahead.
We are to “consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Romans 8:18. As Christians we are “living forward” with joyful anticipation. We don’t dwell on our earthly situation but on our eternal one. All we need to know is found in the Bible. God had a book written for us so that we could know his plan, his purpose and our future. He is a good, good God. Read it and know.
Women, it takes courage and discipline to glorify God in the midst of challenges. Whether that is in the tedious toil of everyday life or in the face of life-altering tragedy. Run your God-given race with joyful endurance. Christ is worth it.