Life is hard. Harder for some than others. Really, really hard for some, so much that our hardships are rather light and momentary in comparison. Nonetheless, life is hard. And the call of Hebrews 12:1-3 is to persevere, to endure. That has been the message in my church for the last two weeks.
But I don’t like to endure. I was a runner in high school. A good runner though not a great one. One of the reasons I wasn’t better is that I mentally gave up and had the wrong attitude. I would start out well but then the realization of the pain set in. I would mentally think about the distance left. “2 miles to go…I’m only 1/2 way of this awful hill…1 mile to go…the last hill is going to kill me…just stop…maybe you’ll trip over that root…” Not a good way to think when you are trying to do your best and when you live in a hilly part of the world.
Now here’s a funny thing. On my team was one of the best runners in New England. He broke course records wherever he went. Chris liked to run with me and I with him on non-race days. We would run at his pace. I would fall in step just behind him and let the rhythm of his steps capture me and lo-and-behold, I ran fast. Somehow that never worked on race days…
My point is that I don’t like to endure. I want endurance to be short and rare AND to always lead to victory or that thing that I want. There are some people (like Olympians) who seem to be better at enduring pain and hardship with little chance of getting the gold just because there is some other fantastic athlete just ahead of them.
Steve Young (pastoral intern at my church) reminded us of Hebrews 10:36: that we have need of endurance. What??? Yes, we have need so that we receive the promise of a better possession.
So, what is your response to sustained hardship? What do you find helps you maintain your “pace?” What do you use to evaluate how well you are doing in your perseverance?
Since there can be bad kinds of endurance, I’ll write more on that topic later.