Life is hard for everyone, including Christians. Typically, we may face illness, stress in relationships, the loss of a job, an accident or a natural disaster. The death of a loved one may test us. To live faithfully through adversity we need endurance.
We follow Jesus who was arrested, judged and executed. He spoke to his followers saying, If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. (John 15:20). In the book of Acts we read of Christians being persecuted, driven from their homes, arrested and even put to death. In light of this the Apostle Paul wrote, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Cor 4:8–9) Christians in New Zealand may not face these extremes of testing, but Christians in other parts of the world do.
Resisting temptation and dealing with the consequences of sin requires endurance. We read, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. (Hebrews 12:1). Note that sin easily entangles. Sinning is like tying your shoelaces together, you will trip and sometimes you will fall hard. The Apostle Paul commands us, … you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. (Colossians 3:8) It takes effort on our part to overcome temptation, to rid ourselves of sin and to allow our lives to be changed to be more Christlike. Added to this we have a spiritual enemy, Satan, who wants to trip us up and dissuade us from persevering with our faith. To deal with sin and spiritual warfare over time requires endurance.
Given the obstacles that are part of human life, following Jesus and dealing with our sin, how do we find spiritual strength to endure? Jesus is Risen! Jesus was executed, but rather than being a failure, his death and his resurrection underlines the success of his mission. We gain endurance by following his example of faithfulness. Consider him, who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:3) Jesus is our inspiration. Furthermore, the power of God that raised Jesus from the dead is at work in us: That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 1:19–20). The power of the risen Lord provides strength to endure.
Our brothers and sisters in our church family support us and will help us to endure. As God’s family we have each other’s interests at heart and encourage each other in faith. The presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives gives us strength to endure. Jesus said … you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you (Acts 1:8). The Holy Spirit equips us with spiritual gifts and causes spiritual fruit to grow in our lives. These gifts and fruit help us persevere and extend our endurance in times of trial.
The bible is a source of spiritual strength for us. We read, … everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. (Romans 15:4–6) The bible gives examples of endurance in characters like Noah, Hannah and David to inspire us.
While the Christian life is not easy, our faith, fellow Christians, the bible and the power of God all help us to endure the difficulties we may face in our lives.
Questions for reflection:
What obstacles in life are you facing that test your endurance?
How might the presence of the Holy Spirit and the power of God help inspire you as you endure hardship?
Rev John Malcolm