Yes, I need to endure but HOW?!
We all know it’s necessary, but we don’t always know “how”.
Yesterday in church, I was reminded of a verse that ministered to me greatly through a long, tough season. I began to think about the endurance needed by our family. Knowing how little we felt prepared, I wish I had known “how” a lot sooner!
This fresh memory, and my recent reading in 1 Thessalonians 3:2-3, sparks my desire to share a little hindsight with those who may be needing it. It can be difficult to function, much less be productive, when all you are desperate for is to make it through the day.
We sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God’s service in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. For you know quite well that we are destined for them.
The context for Paul writing about trials is associated with persecution, but I think these are lessons to be learned whether the trials we are experiencing are related to faith, marriage, parenting, health, finances, or whatever.
Knowing some practices that help strengthen us to persevere can be of benefit, no matter what the underlying issue may be.
What I like the most about this passage is how Paul identifies his purpose for addressing the subject of trials. He desires that his readers be strengthened and encouraged in their faith, knowing that it is going to be critical as they encounter difficult seasons. It will make the difference in their overcoming or giving-up. Paul does not want the Thessalonians to be “unsettled” but prepared for what they undoubtedly would face, at one time or another.
They were going to need to endure, and so did I……
Here are some bullet points for practices that helped me make it through.
10 practices for greater endurance
- Expect trials. We are destined for them. This is not “heaven on earth”. I exhausted myself trying to solve and avoid all our problems. There is no amount of problem-solving or planning to keep trials out of our lives completely. When I ceased striving (as in Psalm 46:10), and accepted Jesus’ perspective of John 16:33, I used my strength more appropriately.
- Stay in your lane. When you realize God is Sovereign and He has you hemmed in beyond your control, you can channel the energy to endure instead of fixing. Did you hear that? We need to learn what we are responsible for and what we are NOT! We have the grace we need for how God wants us to respond. When we take on more than we should, we run out sooner than we should. We are not meant to fix everything and everyone, therefore we don’t have the strength nor the ability for that.
- Jealously guard your time alone with the Father. Jesus often withdrew to spend time privately with God (Luke 5:16) and King David was a shining example of prioritizing the Lord as well (Psalm 16:7-8). Both of these men were able to persevere through what would overcome others. They understood that the strength to endure was absolutely connected to their intimacy with God. If they strayed far from Him, they would not be as equipped to persevere.
- Cling to Scripture. The Word of God is a lifeline, especially in desperate times. Consistency and meditation on Scripture will build strength and fortify it. I remember grabbing hold of Psalm 27:13-14 ( I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD) and refusing to let go. I would read my Bible, write down verses that described what I needed to remember, prayed those verses, and sometimes loudly declared them to myself.
- Do what is right. No matter the circumstances, believers always have the obligation to behave as Jesus would. Whether it was Joseph in the Old Testament or Jesus in the New Testament, plus many more, responding faithfully at all times is a must. Two wrongs don’t make a right and giving way to sinful responses only makes things worse.
- Pray. Regular, unhurried prayer time is pivotal to successful endurance. For me, time with God before my day started was non-negotiable. How could I expect to handle what came my way that day if I had not armored up? He had all I needed to endure but I had to show up to receive it. Communing with God permeates Him throughout your soul.
- Worship. I learned to worship while I waited, while in need, and even while in pain. The excellencies of Christ are ever before me whether I am having a good day or a bad one. He does not change with my circumstances. He is ALWAYS worthy to be adored!
- Keep a gratitude journal. As a recovering perfectionist, I can too easily focus on what is wrong and needs improving or fixing. By using a gratitude journal, where I forced myself to begin the habit of beginning each day with what I had to be grateful for from the previous day, I was continually worshipping and offering thanksgiving. This was huge in remaining hopeful and strong. David wrote many Psalms, Psalm 63 being one of my favorites, where even as he lamented his trials, he was praising the Lord for His worthy attributes.
- Be faithful now. God has a purpose for you even as you suffer, so be obedient to what He gives you to do. Whether a little or a lot, work at it like Joseph did while he was a slave in Egypt (Genesis 39-41). Whether in work or ministry to others, keep moving forward even as you feel stuck or trapped in life.
- Remember. Never forget that God does not waste any sorrow, any tear. He has a sovereign purpose and there are times we won’t understand or agree with what He is doing/allowing. But He is Infinitely Good, and you are infinitely loved, dear friend. More than your mind can comprehend. When life does not make sense, just remember……..He loved you enough to send His Son to die for you. He won’t fail you now.
I know life can be tough, not what we had expected at times. But God provides for us the strength necessary to endure. I can gratefully testify to His grace!
I hope this helps you hang on dear friend, because it sure did for me!