For the last ten years, one of my greatest goals has been to live a faithful life. Regardless of whether or not my life is deemed flashy or impressive by most people’s standards is largely irrelevant. I just want to live and finish my life well. My favorite verse is Revelation 2:10 which says, “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” This past year I, like you, have been confronted with the reality that our world is fragile and insecure. Structures we trust in, fail. People we look up to let us down. Corruption seems to have become the norm. Loved ones pass away. Our faith continues to become more and more marginalized. Hebrews 13:14 serves as a stark reminder. “For we do not have an enduring city here; instead, we seek the one to come.” We don’t have the promise of an unshakeable world. Not yet anyway. (Hebrews 12:26-28) We go to such great lengths to secure comfort and security when in fact we are promised the opposite. 1 Peter 2:11 tells us we are strangers and exiles. 1 Peter 4:12 tells us not to be surprised when we go through fiery trials. (Funny how we still act surprised, even offended when things don’t go our way.) 2 Timothy 3:1 promises our days will be hard.
Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. – Rev. 2:10Tweet
So often we view suffering and difficulties as the exception when in fact the New Testament tells us they are the norm. Jesus flat out tells us in John 16:33 that in this life we will have suffering. I am tremendously thankful for the prosperity and comfort that we have been blessed with in the West, but all one has to do is skim Church history and barely keep up with the news to realize we live in a bubble. (A bubble that may very soon pop.) But as thankful as I am, I think this bubble has made us soft. Hebrews 10 tells us that we will need ENDURANCE. Why do we need endurance? Because according to Scripture, pain is normal. Sickness is normal. Suffering is normal. Conflict is normal. Danger is normal. So we need endurance.
We go to such great lengths to secure comfort and security when in fact we are promised the opposite.Tweet
We will need endurance so we can stay faithful to what we believe. We will need endurance so we can stay faithful to Christ’s bride, the Church. We will need endurance so we can stay faithful to our spouses and families. We will need endurance so we can stay faithful to holy living. Temptation is good at presenting itself in moments of weakness. We need endurance so we don’t shipwreck our faith and lives. We also need endurance so that we can continue to be salt and light even when, especially when, it’s inconvenient. We have a mission given to us by our King and he said he is sending us out as sheep among wolves. (Matthew 10:16) This is why we need endurance. But how do we endure? Often when we are in the middle of suffering and pain it seems impossible.
The good news is God does not leave us to endure in our strength. 2 Timothy 1:7 is a great little verse that shows us how God enables our endurance. First of all it tells us that God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear. We don’t need to be afraid of what the immediate future may bring. (While much may seem uncertain, the above verses give us a clue.) God’s perfect love casts out fear. (1 John 4:18) Fear will cripple and immobilize us. There is a fight to be fought and a race to be won! (1 Timothy 6:12, 2 Timothy 4:7) Fear is not from God. God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear, but power. Power to accomplish the mission he has laid before us. Power to live a holy life. Power to live as conquerors. (Romans 8:37-39) Power to endure.
The good news is God does not leave us to endure in our strength.Tweet
God has also given us love. When we are regularly experiencing God’s love we can endure any difficulty. I don’t think we can comprehend how loved we are. Romans 8 tells us that God didn’t even spare his own Son because he loved us so much. Paul prayed that the church at Ephesus would be able to understand the love of God that passes comprehension. (Ephesians 3:17-19) It’s so easy to FEEL like we are unloved and unwanted, especially while suffering. But the TRUTH is we are more loved than we can ever comprehend. Lastly, we see in 2 Timothy 1:7 that God has given us a sound mind. A sound-mind allows us to have a biblical world-view of suffering and difficulties. A world-view that tells us the suffering we face now will be nothing compared to the eternal glory that awaits the faithful. (Romans 8:18) A sound mind allows us to have hope when things seem dark. Hope that tells us even though our outward man is perishing, inwardly we are being renewed day by day. (2 Corinthians 4:16) A sound-mind enables us to see our suffering for what it is and move forward in a Christ-exalting way.
Spirit-enabled endurance is always accompanied by joy.Tweet
God has given us everything we need to endure and be faithful in this life. (2 Peter 1:3) But there is one characteristic of God-given endurance that sets it apart from flesh-driven grit. How do we know when it’s the Holy Spirit enabling our endurance? Joy. Spirit-enabled endurance is always accompanied by joy. (Galatians 5:22, Nehemiah 8:10) When we are walking in dependence on the Holy Spirit and trusting in him to enable us to endure through whatever difficulty we are facing, there will always be joy. Joy that Jesus died for us. (John 3:16) Joy that we have glory for all eternity waiting for us. (1 Peter 5:10) Joy that God is with us, no matter what we face. (Psalm 23) Spirit-enabled endurance is not a drudgery. It is a life of joy-filled faithfulness to the one who gave everything to us.
Would you do me a favor? Would you subscribe to my weekly newsletter? Every week I send out a few updates from the blog and everyone who signs up gets chapter one of my book Thriving In Exile for free. Just plug in your email right here and you will be set. Thank you!!
How Do We Navigate Suffering?
THRIVING IN EXILE
Discover how your Christian identity can enable you to walk through the difficulties in your life well while at the same time point people to the one place they can find lasting hope.
Purchase the paperback version of Thriving in Exile today and I’ll send you the ebook free! Just click the button below to purchase your copy of the book then and I’ll send you the E-Book free of charge. Message me below a copy of your order to get your free copy.