The Problem with Endurance
by George San Miguel
I am not a runner.
That may not be a shocking statement to those that know me, but I used to be a runner. I was a sprinter in high school, and for a (very) short time ran Division 1 track in college. To be fair, I was just an “alternate” third leg of a 4×100 relay team. As an alternate, I was ready to run in my first race when the person I replaced was miraculously healed of his hangover…this ended my college track career.
I played a lot of sports in my life but soccer was always my passion. And while my speed gave me a great advantage on the field it was my stamina that allowed me to be successful on the field. This stamina came from my upbringing. I was raised in a military community and my soccer coach (who was a former state wrestling champ, former NFL linebacker and current Drill Sergeant in the army) had a very clear message “If you can’t endure, then you can’t play”.
The problem with endurance
This attitude of endurance was ingrained into my character, and I carried it into all aspects of my life. For the most part that attribute has been a positive in my life but I have struggled to reconcile endurance/stamina with trusting Jesus. I can fight and push through a lot of things. Internally, I still have the same fight and grit that allowed me to outlast the people I competed against on the soccer field, but where does this play into the Kingdom of God?
Endurance (some translations say perseverance) is all over the Bible. There is definitely an emphasis in the New Testament to persevere through suffering, press into God’s Word and to finish the race to receive the prize (click here for these references). Those passages are incredibly inspiring to me but at what point is endurance about my strength? Along with endurance we are also told to take our burdens to Christ where we can have rest and carry a lighter burden (Matthew 11:28-30) and to cast all of our cares on Him because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).
This is my struggle. I too often rely on my own strength and not on God’s. Then my mission becomes how much am I able to accomplish. This is not healthy nor does it bring lasting success. We need to have a proper view of endurance.
What is endurance?
- Acknowledging life is hard and we can’t get through it on our own (Jeremiah 10:23)
- Trusting that Jesus will come through for us as He has done for us and others in the past (Hebrews 11-12)
- Doing God’s work and not our own (2 Thessalonians 3:1-3)
- Growing in the Character of Jesus (James 1:4)
How does endurance play out in our lives?
Endurance needs to have a firm foundation in Jesus and His Word. Whether its having a good soil for seeds to take root or building on a firm foundation rather than sand, the Bible instructs us to place our trust in the most stable thing possible–Jesus.
Trust doesn’t mean that we just put on a happy face and ignore our circumstances. Life will be hard and sometimes for long periods of time. It may be hard to get out of bed in the morning, read the Bible or even pray. Sometimes perseverance means that we look to Jesus and admit “I need you to do this for me, because I can’t do it myself.” I believe that’s the point of Ephesians chapter 6. We put on this armor (that we did not earn) so that we can just stand with Jesus while He wins the Battle for us.
George is an elder and staff member of The Hallows Church. He can be reached at email@example.com.