Friday, August 19, 2011

The Grace to Endure

***This is re-post from my old Flowers Fade blog, but the grace to endure seems like an important meditation at the start of a loooong school year...***

I am in the midst of reading John Piper's book Future Grace. I recently read the chapter on anxiety, and I stumbled across this beautiful, intriguing phrase..."the grace to endure." Piper was talking about the fear of public speaking that haunted him throughout his childhood and into college. It seems almost funny now, as he is one of the most well known pastors in America, but he was plagued by anxiety about speaking in public for years and years. Like shaky voice, shaky hands, all the kids in the class and the teacher felt bad for him kind of anxiety. And he said he prayed hundreds of prayers for help during those years and God only provided the grace to endure...

The grace to endure. What a humbling, intriguing idea. Sometimes God doesn't answer our prayers how we want him to or when we want him to. However, he gives us the strength to keep going despite our trials. Our very lives are a mark of God's grace, so if life is hard, and God gives us the strength to keep going and keep trusting in Him, despite hardship, that is God's grace in our lives. We don't deserve endurance.

This phrase led me to the Bible, where I read all I could about enduring and endurance. Here are a few of the things I found...

Luke 21:19 "By your endurance you will gain your lives." Jesus is telling his disciples about the hardships they will endure as his followers after he leaves earth. He says they will be mocked, hated, and possibly even killed, but their endurance in persecution is a mark of their salvation.

Romans 5:3-5 "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." Love these verses. So not only do we not deserve to endure, but God uses endurance to strengthen and sanctify us. Endurance results in character and character produces hope. The result of endurance is hope in God - and his future grace.

I Peter 2:19-20 "Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God." The context of this verse is a command for slaves to be subject to their masters. But this is a truth for all believers. We are to endure suffering, even when we suffer for doing good. This is a mark of God's grace in our lives, because it shows that we are following the example of Christ, and God looks on this kind of endurance with favor and blessing.

Hebrews: 12:1-2 "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 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." Here our lives are compared to a race that must be run with perserverance all the way to the finish line. Anyone with running background knows that races are not easy. Race day means you push your body to perform at your maximum level. Races are hard, but it is exciting to finish them well. Here Jesus is, again, the example of the model racer. His race included a cross right before the finish line... He endured more than we can imagine and finished his race perfectly so the rest of us could finish our races with endurance as well.

How is God giving you the grace to endure today? 
How is this producing hope in your life?


bekah said...

this theme keeps popping up all around me :) thanks for sharing these thoughts! always an encouragement

Olivia said...

HI Jen, thanks so much for all of the GREAT advice about Austin! Brian and I LOVED Mozart's cafe and went there a few times. SO beautiful on the lake, thanks again!!!