We talked about soccer and how every man’s just the same . . .
– Caedmon’s Call, Table for Two
Andrew and I had a great talk last night over a meal at Chili’s.
Threaded inside a larger discussion of music, the worship band Andrew plays in, school, books, and other things was a discussion about perseverance. We talked about being dry, watching friends fall away, and endurance. We talked about how everybody hurts.
This talk struck a chord with me. I think I’ve been praying harder these last few months than I ever have before, that those I love will endure. And not just endure, but thrive, standing firm in joy.
Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.
– Philippians 4:1 (ESV)
”Stand firm thus in the Lord”, Paul writes. The passion with which he shares that sentiment is palpable. He is writing to people whom he loves and longs for; his joy and crown.
I think I can understand where Paul is coming from here. I’ve felt a great urgency in this area lately, both for people in my family and those without. The life of a Christian is the best life, and after being allowed to bumble along my own course in this faith-run for the past two decades I simply can’t imagine being without the Lord. The burden of Christ is, indeed, easy and light compared to the crushing weight of sin and the chains of legalism, but you can’t read very far in Scripture without coming to an exhortation for endurance. God knows that the life we’re called to is not “natural”. When a person is in Christ they are no longer at home in this world.
And we long for home so badly! It’s easy to want to take the short-cut: this world calls to us. It offers a pleasant place for us to set up residence. It seeks to topple our faith through argument, to inflame our flesh through temptation, to make us bitter and cynical on the one hand and obliviously complacent on the other. It seeks to fill our time with every bauble and trinket money (or credit) can buy and every distraction that its five-hundred digital channels can offer.
God says “stand firm”. Struggles are going to come. In fact, struggles and suffering are good. They teach us endurance. It is through suffering that we learn perseverance, and gain character, which in turn produces precious, golden hope.
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
– Romans 5:1-5 (ESV)
“More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings . . .”
Wow. May I learn this. And may I stand firm.
And, Lord, may those I love and long for, my joy and crown, do the same. Lord, teach us to endure.