In the early days of Christianity, the writer of Hebrews encouraged a suffering group of believers, tempted to quit their faith in Jesus, with these words: “Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.” (Hebrews 10:35-36).
I emphasized the word “endurance” for a reason. In this trial that we call “2020”, I can think of no other quality needed more than that. In March, we thought that the pandemic would last a few weeks, maybe a month. Then the summer came and we thought we would see a turnaround in the Fall. Now the Fall is here and it is hard to see an end in sight, even with the promising vaccines on the way. We are tired, stressed, frustrated, and often hopeless. Some days it is hard just to get out of bed! Are you with me? I’m not alone, right? So I’ve found myself readjusting my goals and expectations and what I define as “success” for each day. And it has brought be back to this need for “endurance” or “perseverance,” something the Bible talks about quite often as a key in our faith journey.
Think of it this way: imagine that we are on a hike up a very steep mountain. We were told the mountain is 5,000 feet, but every time we reach a point where we think the climb will end, we are told there is another 5,000 feet to go and we can’t even see the peak yet! How do we feel? A lot like we feel right now as we go through this pandemic! What will help us keep going? The knowledge that God sees our struggle, that He is right here with us on the journey, and that all he asks us to do is keep putting one foot in front of the other as we trust Him. Brothers and sisters, that is success! We will get to the top! Imagine also how reaching the top will feel, when we can look back and see how we trusted Christ together and can rejoice in how He saw us through. I look with faith and anticipation to that day!
“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 perfector 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.” Hebrews 12:1-2