In his first letter to Timothy, Paul gives a vital instruction: “as for you, …pursue… endurance”. (1 Timothy 6:11 NRSV) But how do we do this? We want to bring God glory, but how is it possible to endure while facing trials or persecution? Hebrews 12:2-3 provides the answer:
Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
Jesus has already endured the greatest suffering that could ever be experienced. Wanting to please his Father, and keeping eternity in view, he was able to endure the cross and bring salvation to us. It’s so easy to get distracted by temporal things, but we can make deliberate choices about how we spend our time. We are learning from him as we read the scriptures and reflect on his life, words and actions. Thankfully this isn’t fixing our eyes on a person in the distance, or studying someone we don’t know personally; we can experience a closeness with the Lord when we respond to his invitation in Matthew 11: “Come to me… take my yoke… learn from me”.
The hymn ‘What a friend we have in Jesus’ causes us to ponder what to do in difficult days: ‘Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?’ What a wonderful response is provided after all these upsetting questions: ‘Take it to the Lord in prayer.’ No wonder 1 Peter 4:19 advises: “Let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator”. Our Saviour understands, and we can trust him.
I love the words of Annie Johnson Flint:
Psalm 16:8 reveals the secret of those who successfully endure: “I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand I shall not be moved”.
Norma Aitken, the Church of God in Glasgow