1. the ability to hold up or last especially under strain or suffering
Have you ever heard the saying, “There’s nothing new under the sun?” As a human being you are not exempt from the challenges of this life. Whether you are rich or poor, have good health or not, famous or unknown, you will definitely have to face challenges. These challenges look different for different people in various circumstances.
In this week’s entry, I want to focus on endurance that brings about character development and life transformation. How do you express yourself when you are treated unjustly? How do you relate to those who are in authority? In what ways do you relate to your spouse, parents, coworkers, employees, the underprivileged, and so on?
We live in a society that classifies people by religion, culture, gender, race, and economic status among many other differences. These differences determine the way we live and the beliefs and values we hold. And although we might not realize it, as we face life’s challenges, we will endure pain based on these beliefs and values. The problem is that if I don’t know what your beliefs are, I will not understand why you have to endure certain pain since we don’t share the same beliefs. For example, we know that certain religions don’t eat pork. If I didn’t know that and someone came to my home and I served them pork, I may offend them without even knowing.
In our day to day lives, endurance can look like:
Being mocked for the ‘stupid’ values or beliefs you have
Willingness to walk away from situations that are against your beliefs and values at any cost
Having delayed gratification
Being alone, and much more
All of these actions can cause a lot of strain and suffering. So, is it worth the pain? We want to be better people, but are we willing to endure the hardships that come along in the process? As we allow God through Christ to help us, it is guaranteed that we will experience friction in the process of transformation.
However, as believers in Christ, our faith in God is the most precious gift we can give to Him. Our faith in God is the language that communicates our love to God – it’s the currency that we use with God. For example, if God says to pray for those that spitefully use us, the way to show God that we agree is by doing exactly that. This is how we show God, through our actions, that His words mean a lot to us. As we do these things, little by little our hearts change and it becomes natural for us to obey his commandments. Finally, obeying His commandments will come out of our faith and love towards him and not out of obligation.
Here's another example. In this world, we work so hard to get paid in monetary terms. Most money is backed up by gold or silver (a dollar has value because the Federal Reserve backs it up with these precious metals). Therefore, paper money has to hold value according to the gold standard; otherwise, it would just be a piece of paper. In the same way our faith has to be backed up by something valuable, otherwise it will just be lip service.
In the challenges you may be facing right now – relationships, marriage, finances, health, employment, family – as you put your faith in God, what you do and say will be dependent on what God says. Many times, it will not be easy to obey what God says because it will cause us to suffer. However, your ability to endure pain and suffering will communicate to God more than anything else. Your ability to endure is what will develop godly character and hope in your life.
How does it happen? I will use the example of refining gold. When gold is mined, it carries many impurities. To get rid of these impurities, the goldsmith has to put the gold under so much heat that it will melt away the impurities and make it perfect. Similarly, our characters are flawed. In order to get rid of these flaws, we must endure the fire of patience by standing for what we believe.
Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations.
Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience.
But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be people perfectly and fully developed with no defects, lacking in nothing.
Moreover, let us also be full of joy now! Let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance.
And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of character (approved faith and tried integrity). And character of this sort produces the habit of joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation.
Many of us want to be successful at what we do, but if we become successful, but our characters are visibly flawed to everyone, we tend to cause more pain to others than we intend. This is especially true for natural born leaders. A selfish leader will only be concerned about getting to the top by any means necessary, but a good leader is willing to through a purification process so that they can lead others well. Many times, leaders will suffer the most because their ability to relate to others from different walk of life means that they have submitted themselves to someone and something bigger than themselves.
Your ability to endure pain for what you believe means that you can show others the way to overcome because you have experienced it yourself. As a leader, you need to have patience and hope so that your followers don’t give up. Patience is a virtue that develops over a long period of time. It comes as a result of learning that after all of our efforts fail, we can’t do anything more but to wait. So we end up submitting ourselves to endurance because at the end of the day, our striving and efforts delay the process and don’t gain us anything at all.
Does God want us to suffer? I think our interpretation of suffering can really be redefined. Typically, when things don’t go the way we want, we define it as suffering. But we have opposing factors and we have to decide what we will believe. If we choose to believe God, then we can’t insist on what we want on our terms. If our pursuit of God supersedes our vain pursuits, we will be able to perceive what God perceives and that will give us hope when we are suffering. Your ability to believe God and take him at his Word, will give you strength to endure hardships that will develop your godly character and your faith will grow stronger.
We always love stories that are filled with struggles, but have good endings. In the Bible, we read the story about Job and see how he endured so much pain and never gave up. As a result, God paid back everything he had lost.
If you are in a relationship with someone and you see that they endure difficult choices because of their love for you, you will treasure the relationship because it has been backed up by actions. In the same way, God can easily change any situation at a blink of an eye, but he doesn’t because He wants people to relate to Him because they love Him.
So when you are suffering, don’t look at it as though God is punishing you. Instead, look at it as a token of your choice in loving God –proof that you are willing to suffer for what you believe. This is worth more than any gold in this world. Your transformation into a godly character cannot be purchased by anything but your willingness to obey God.
God doesn’t take your obedience as a small issue. For those of you who have prayed, believed, suffered and feel like you don’t have anything left to endure. Be encouraged – what you are allowing God to do in you will not only help others to get stronger but your love and faith towards God will also become strong.
Enjoy the process because what you are getting out of it is priceless and worth more than gold!