A Message for the Messenger Online Bible Conference – Day 3

If you have not been out here for the last two days, you should catch up with our excellent posts on faith. But for today, I have with us a guest blogger, speaking on endurance and perseverance,  who celebrated her first year anniversary of blogging only four days ago, Lauren S. from Defying Depravity!
“Endurance. Perseverance. The two words sound so intimidating, as if they could only be upheld and kept by the strongest and wisest of people. They’re so neglected by this generation. Endurance and perseverance imply hard work and waiting, both of which the people of today shun with disgust. But what do these words really mean? Are they really so far out of reach? Can I, weak and unwise, have them?

Endurance and perseverance are defined according to Webster’s as follows:

Endure: 1.Tolerate
2.Suffer
3. Survive

Perseverance: persist in spite of obstacles

That seems beyond intimidating, right? I mean, how many of us are strong enough, or have the will to persist in spite of obstacles? How many of us are patient enough to tolerate something and suffer through it? I admit that I do not have endurance or perseverance in certain areas of my life. But does that mean I can never have it? No.

I want to look at my personal favorite reference to endurance and perseverance – Heb. 12:1-3: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, 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, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

To summarize, this passage specifically mentions that we are to run this race of life with perseverance, and it gives Jesus’ race as a testimony of endurance.

These two terms are so closely related, and frequently used interchangeably, but have two different meanings. But yet, they go hand in hand. So for the moment, I want to specifically zero in on endurance.

When we speak of endurance, we immediately think of hard, challenging sufferings, and it makes us a little more than squeamish. We don’t want to face challenges, especially if it involves suffering! But yet, we wouldn’t have to “endure” anything if it wasn’t hard and painful. So yes, endurance does mean suffering. Without suffering, there could be no endurance.

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? Heb. 12:7

There’s that “endurance” word again, right next to the word “hardship”! Linking back to vs. 1-3, we see that Jesus “endured the cross”, and “endured such opposition from sinners”. Yet again, we see endurance associated with suffering and hardship. Okay, so now that we see that we will suffer, and we need to have endurance even through the hardships, how do we have endurance?

I’ll answer my question with another question: How did Jesus have endurance? V. 2b, For the joy set before him he endured he cross… Joy. He had the joy of knowing that in the end, the pain would all be worth it. Once He had accomplished His intentions on the cross, and made a way for eternal fellowship between God and man, it would be worth everything He had suffered through in the meantime. He endured opposition from the ones He was trying to redeem. That couldn’t have possibly been anywhere close to joy. But He saw the joy at the end of the road of pain, and decided that He was willing to pay the price. And thus, He had endurance. He was able to tolerate it, to suffer, and he survived.

In our hardships, in our trials, we tend to focus completely on how terrible we’ve got it, of how awful our situation or circumstance is. We forget that there is joy at the end of the road of suffering, and we forget to look to it. We can even have joy as we are in a hardship, knowing that in the end, it will all be worth it.

Now, to switch gears and shift over to perseverance. We’ve already gone over the definition of perseverance, so let’s look back at the passage in Heb. 12. V.1b, And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us… Well, how are we supposed to run with perseverance? V. 2a, …fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. There you have it. Fix your eyes on Jesus.

Okaaay… what does that look like? How do we “fix our eyes on Jesus”?

I like to picture those blinders the horses wear sometimes, that come on either side of their eyes, so that they can only see straight ahead. They’ve got their eyes fixed on the road ahead of them, rather than letting their eyes drift to things like that delectable grass on the side of the road. They don’t get distracted by any obstacles on the side of their path.

The same principle applies here. Put your blinders on. Perseverance is defined as “persisting in spite of obstacles” – you can’t see the obstacles of distraction on the side of your path if you have your blinders on, so you can keep your eyes on the road in front of you.

Here’s where perseverance and endurance go hand in hand. When we go through a hardship, we tend to get distracted by the details of the circumstance. Even these little distractions remove our eyes from Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith, and cause us to be hindered. We need endurance to bear the suffering, and perseverance to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.

Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him, he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Heb. 1b-3)”

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