Those two crazy brothers of mine signed up for a marathon, running 26.3 miles through the streets of Lincoln one Sunday last May. You don’t just show up for these things without a little investment, and there had been months of training indoors and out to get ready. The beginning of the race is when the runner is full of excitement, adrenaline and high hopes, and the brothers kept each other at a decent pace, cheering the other on by their presence. It’s that middle part where it gets hard. The finish line is no where in sight and when the cramps set in, one goes on ahead and it feels like time to quit. Sure, there are people cheering from the sidelines but they aren’t pushing through the pain, through the thoughts that creep in and desire to turn back. But when the invitation to endurance is accepted, the finish line eventually comes and the race is completed.
There’s this invitation for us too– to push through the messy middle of a season or situation, to hold on for dear life in the pain and anger and sorrow. We make it out to be something terrible, and when I hear God’s beckoning into this I want to say, “No way!” Please don’t give this to me, not now.
But He gives us this promise, this encouragement: “We pray that you will be strengthened with all His glorious power so you have all the endurance and patience you need” (Colossians 1:11). The endurance is a gift that flows from the power of the God who spoke the planets and stars into being and raised Jesus from the dead. In the midst of it all there is this opportunity to choose joy. Our faith tested, our endurance stretched and grown, we come to the finish line made more complete. This is what James says: “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing” (James 1:2-4 NLT).
Is God giving you an invitation to endure? How are you finding joy in the midst of it all?