Giving UP or Giving OVER

“Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith. . .” Hebrews 12:1-2

To say I am not a runner is an understatement. I do not aspire to run unless I am playing chase with my nephews or “running errands.” However, I am all for cheering on those who complete rigorous feats like a marathon!

The Greek word for “race” from Hebrews above not only means the obvious “foot race” but also “contest, struggle.” Growing up playing tennis competitively I know the thrill of pressing through struggles to win a contest. During a tennis match, resistance may come in the form of wind, the toughness of an opponent, thoughts of defeat, injury, physical depletion, heat, rain delay and the possibilities go on.

Just like a sporting event, the path of a Christ follower involves overcoming resistance to obtain victory. Resistance rises up in the form of uncontrollable factors like a broken water heater, calling to find out information about your insurance and being disconnected, your child’s tantrums, a boss who fails to acknowledge your concerns, the discovery of a small issue on your skin turning out to be more.

The author of Hebrews shares the key to confronting resistance while making progress in the Christian faith.

Notice the words “with endurance.”  Endurance is defined as “the capacity to continue to bear up under difficult circumstances.” The first part of the definition instructs us about capacity, or space. We may feel like, “I don’t have SPACE in my life (or mind or budget) to deal with this! God, I can’t believe this is happening now. . .”

In our own strength, we don’t have the ability to move through the resistance with victory. We feel like sitting on the sidelines for a while. Avoid your boss, let your child do whatever he or she wants, not calling back to gather information, put off fixing the water heater. Many times we do not have the luxury of sidelining without consequences which sidetrack us for a lot longer.

We turn our attention to God and say, “I don’t have it in me right now. I need you to fill me with your patience and perseverance.” We pray for the capacity through the Holy Spirit to face what is making us want to give up, even momentarily.

The second aspect of endurance is to “bear up,” meaning to “support, encourage.” Endurance translates into seeking support in our struggles. We call out asking for encouragement, “God, show me Yourself.” Reading and meditating on Scripture, pursuing the presence and prayers of believers and reading a biography about a believer’s ability to endure facilitate our ability to bear up under the weight of circumstances.

I treasure how Sacred Story shows off endurance by dear sisters in Christ. When you have a moment, the stories featured in “From the Middle East” reveal what it’s like for believers to make progress in their faith in a hostile environment. Sister, run with endurance for victory is ours!  ~ Laura

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