God has not called us to endure for nothing. There are eternal rewards which accrue to our accounts based on our perseverance. “This light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17). One moment in glory there will make up for the hardship we endure here.
Growing up, I remember hearing an ad on the radio for tyres. The advertisers argued that these tyres had a peculiar quality about them. They could go on for long without wearing out, so it was claimed. These tyres had endurance.
To keep at something for decades is widely recognised as remarkable. Think of the reverential clapping that erupts when a husband and wife announce that they’ve been together for 30 years. Note also how one generation feels the need to remind the next one of how tough things were when they were growing up. “You’re soft,” they say, “in our day, we had to kill a lion with our bare hands and use its skin to make our shoes!”
Endurance, with its synonyms (perseverance, long-suffering, or patience) appears throughout the Bible as a Christian virtue. It is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). Christians have a duty to endure. How, then, do we ready ourselves for it? Below I offer seven suggestions in the fight for perseverance.
1. Expect Hardship in Life
Jesus promised that there would be trials (John 16:33). So we shouldn’t be lulled into thinking that all will go swimmingly. This is the kind of mindset the whole Bible seeks to instill in us. It teaches that our first parents sinned and plunged the world into darkness. Toilsome labour became a part of human existence. Thus we function in a creation that has been “subjected to futility” (Romans 8:20).
We also have an enemy. The same one who acted to subvert God’s creation in tempting man to sin continues to resist us. He established a kingdom whose culture rigorously opposes all that is godly. Yes, the gates of hell will not prevail against us, but they do resist us. Therefore, forward spiritual progress of any kind requires overcoming a futility weaved into existence because of sin and a mighty foe who is against us. We must thus not be surprised by hardship.
2. Understand God’s Purposes in Hardship
By this, I don’t mean special insight into every instance of hardship. I mean developing a theology of what God seeks to do through it.
Consider Paul’s use of the word “knowing” as it relates to hardships. He writes: “We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces hope” (Romans 5:3).