Building Spiritual Endurance
By Maria Fontaine
As a part of our spiritual growth and Christian development, we inevitably experience the process of learning how to endure difficulties and delays. At different points in our lives, we may find ourselves having to get used to fighting more long-term battles. And in the process, we learn what it means to really hold on, not just for one day or one week or one month, but perhaps for many months or even years at a time. Through these experiences, we learn to truly cling to God’s Word and “endure hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ.” (2 Timothy 2:3)
We may not have had to learn such heavy lessons of patience and endurance before, and it may seem like a hard saying when these lessons come knocking at our door. In our personal battles and trials, in many cases we may have experienced shorter struggles with quick victories in answer to our prayers. We’ve seen lives changed and souls won so easily. We’ve finished projects and have gotten quick answers to our prayers. We’ve seen rapid healings.
However, we all will face times in life where we have to make up our minds that we may have extended periods of not seeing any evidence of victory or even improvement at all, times when, if anything, you may be feeling pretty rotten. There may be times when you won’t be able to go on your feelings at all, but will have to cling to the promises of His Word, that God still loves you and God still cares. He is expecting you to go on for Him, no matter what you feel like, and no matter how long you don’t feel like it. It may come down to having to learn to keep going even if you feel like you’re just going through the motions, just doing what you’re supposed to do because God says so in His Word.
The Word tells us, “Blessed is the man that endures temptation.” (James 1:12) “Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” (James 5:11) “Endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:5 NKJV) “We also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces patience; and patience, character; and character, hope.” (Romans 5:3–4 NKJV)
Knowing that God’s Word tells us that we are blessed when we endure can give us courage to keep on going in the face of seemingly hopeless situations. You may have to keep going even when it seems like everything has turned against you, believing that God will never fail in one of His good promises. You may have to choose to wait on the Lord and rest in Jesus’ arms with those unbreakable promises in your mind and heart, like many of the hymn writers expressed, who learned to endure. We have to ground our faith in His Word and trust that His purpose for each one of us will be fulfilled, as we continue to believe and trust in His promises.
You can’t look at faith the way that a lot of people look at marriages nowadays, “Oh well, if it doesn’t work out, I’ll just get a divorce.” You’ve got to be “fully persuaded” in your own mind and heart that God is able to do whatever He promises. (Romans 4:21) You’ve got to have the attitude of “to whom shall we go; no one else has the words of eternal life!” (John 6:68) If you have consecrated and dedicated yourself and have made that kind of a commitment to the Lord, then no matter how hard things get, you’ll keep going by His grace and keep living for the Lord in whatever way He has called you.
Should we cower and tremble and hide our faces at the prospect of enduring hardness? No! We should be challenged and excited at the wonderful things the Lord is going to do through us.
If you are worried or fearful of the future and its uncertainties, the secret lies in increasing your faith through His Word and the wonderful promises that the Lord has given. Even if you find yourself in a time of suffering or enduring hardship in this life, you can rejoice that it is your destiny and your calling to be victorious over it, whether in this life or the next! The thing you have to realize when you go through trying times is that as a Christian there is a purpose in everything you experience in your life.
We don’t have to fear! Although we may have lots of problems, at least we know there’s a good reason for it, a purpose behind it all. We understand that we are in a spiritual warfare, and that most of our problems are a result of that, and they ultimately teach us lessons and make us strong. So just the fact that we know that these trials have a valuable, eternal purpose makes it a lot easier for us to bear them.
We have God’s Word, we have prayer, we have the Lord’s promises, we have a vision, we have a purpose, we have Holy Spirit power, and we know God’s plan for the future and where we’re going after this life. We have a reason for patient endurance during times of tribulation.
As Christians, we should not only believe it but we should preach it, even when what we believe and practice and preach is in opposition to much of what the world believes and practices. We’re called to preach the gospel, in season and out of season. It’s our calling as Christians to stand up for what we believe, even when God’s truth is unpopular. How much better to suffer affliction now with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin for a season. (Hebrews 11:25)
So let us rather “boast all the more gladly of our weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon us.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) He has promised that His grace will be sufficient!
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