“For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise…” ~Heb. 10:36
In our modern-day world, few have the knowledge of what endurance truly means. The first use of the word was in the late 1400s. (Which brings up an interesting point: We translate the Greek word for patience as endurance in the cases like the one above. Thus we know that endurance is closely linked to patience.) One question we have to ask is what did the author mean? First of all, who was he writing to? Twice he uses patience in the context of lasting or continuing. As the title of the book indicates, it was written to the Hebrews. At the end of the book, however, he is talking to all Christians. Think of what these early Christians were going through. They were being crucified, burned at the stake, starved to death, cut in pieces, and many, many more tortures. Many times they would be given a dungeon cell by themselves, away from the light. Think of all the pain involved and then think about suffering that yourself. Think about pain coursing through every nerve, every tissue, every fiber of your body. About people mocking and slandering you at the door of your cell, while thirst loneliness and hunger almost overcome you. How fitting this passage was and is for believers. It is during these times of persecution that we truly understand the meaning of endure. When we have persevered with complete faith in God and with boundless joy, knowing that our Lord suffered worse for us, but that we have the opportunity to suffer for Him, then we can say, without boasting, that we have endured.
In America, enduring is many times either continuing to workout until you’ve reached your goal weight, or being successful in your attempts to stop smoking, or training up your children with loving discipline. We view, as a nation, jogging a few miles without stopping as a feat of endurance, and in a way it is, but it rarely enters our minds that people have had to sit on iron chairs while a fire raged beneath them. Don’t let that thought revolt you. Rather, you should be longing to show your love of Christ, no matter what the cost, even if it means being tied hand and foot and then being thrown to an angry bull. As Americans, we have an easy lifestyle, untainted by the persecutions that, say, the Chinese are currently facing. Some are threatened at gunpoint to denounce Christ. You can probably guess what they do and what the outcome is. They would rather be shot than degrade God’s holy name. As Americans, we are often forgetful, not remembering the sacrifices that have been made for Christ Jesus our Lord and ignoring the fact that we are to make sacrifices as well. As Americans, we fear pain, even the thought of pain. As Christians, however, we should welcome the opportunity to make a stand for Christ. The only question left is, what path will you follow? The path of the American, easy and carefree? Or the path of the Christian, potentially fraught with danger and suffering? Where do your loyalties lie?
Your brother in Christ,