Endurance Is Never Passive
Romans 5:3-5 (NLT) “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us--they help us learn to endure. Endurance then develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation.”
Life is filled with storms of one kind or another. In the midst of those storms, we tend to respond as if God has somehow been caught off guard. The storm makes no sense. We can’t explain why terminal illness strikes godly people. We don’t understand how our strongest friends can become our fiercest critics. The anguish of a broken marriage or the overwhelming heartbreak of a prodigal child drives us to doubt God’s purpose, plan and provision. The fear of financial ruin paralyzes us. God understands.
The Bible is filled with men and women who were storm survivors – people of God who endured great pain and weathered intense life storms because they chose to follow Him. The Apostle Paul, known for persecuting and murdering Christians, was forever changed when he met Jesus Christ. While God gave him a life of great power and eternal impact, it was also a life filled with great storms. Paul learned to “patiently” endure the troubles, hardships and calamities that came his way. (2 Corinthians 6:4 NLT)
Because grain was a precious food source to the Romans, threshing grain was a natural part of every day in ancient Rome. In pictures of early Rome, one man is always seen stirring up the sheaves while another rides over them in a crude cart equipped with rollers instead of wheels. Sharp stones and rough bits of iron were attached to these wheels to help separate the husks from the grain. This simple cart was called a “tribulum” from which we get our word “tribulation.”
No Roman ever used his tribulum as a tool of destruction - only refinement. God uses our trials and storms as tools of refinement to build in us endurance. The word “endure” comes from two Greek words that when combined, give the meaning “to remain under.” It is the capacity to stay under the load, to remain in the circumstances without running away or looking for the easy way out.
The purpose of every storm is to purify and cultivate endurance. Like Paul, we may sometimes feel as if we are being torn to pieces under the pressure of circumstances. But his challenge to the Romans compels us to re-examine our perspective and response to each storm we face. “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us--they help us learn to endure. Endurance then develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation” (Romans 5:3-5 NLT).
Endurance is never passive. It is the picture of a soldier staying in the heat of the battle under terrible opposition but still pressing forward to gain the victory.
There are few things that we can count on in this unpredictable life - but we can count on storms to come. We can also count on God’s continual and unfailing strength for those storms. When the hard times come, when bad things happen, we do not have to wonder where God is. Instead we can hold on to the promise that is found in Jeremiah 16:19, “Lord, you are my strength, and my protection. You are a safe place for me to run in times of trouble” (NLT).
An old seaman once said, "In fierce storms we can do but one thing. There is only one way to survive. We must put the ship in a certain position and keep her there." Richard Fuller commented on the old seaman’s words:
This, Christian, is what you must do. Sometimes, like Paul, you can see neither sun nor stars, and no small tempest lies on you. Reason cannot help you. Past experiences give you no light. Only a single course is left. You must stay upon the Lord; and come what may -- winds, waves, cross seas, thunder, lightning, frowning rocks, roaring breakers -- no matter what, you must lash yourself to the helm and hold fast your confidence in God's faithfulness and his everlasting love in Christ Jesus.
No matter what storm rages in your life today – no matter how fierce the winds or how high the waves may be – where you are is no surprise to God. Heaven is not in a panic. Keep your gaze on Him and your glance on the raging waters. “Lash yourself” to Him and He will supply everything you need to stand firm in the storm.