Endure in the Joy

This is our last week of the review of the word Endure. We have looked at Endurance in the Mundane everyday and last week we looked at Endurance in the Hard times. This week we look at endurance when things are going well, when life is smooth, comfortable and relatively trouble free.

Now, you may think that it strange to talk about endurance in happy times, because surely that is what they are and they don’t take any enduring, we are happy, we are coasting along, life is good!

But you see, often when life is good, when we are free from pressure, that is when we can let our faithfulness slip, that is when we think we are doing okay and so we can relax, we don’t need to attend that meeting, we don’t need to read our bibles so much because life is good!

And we do praise God for those times, and I think we often don’t acknowledge them, almost as if we are not meant to be happy (or perhaps that is just the dour scots in us!!)

So another helpful book I have found this year is ‘A Long Obedience in the Same Direction’ by Eugene Peterson which is a meditation on Songs of Ascents in the book of Psalms.

In the Psalms the people are on a journey, on this journey they experience all of life just as we have looked at over the last few week, the long plod, the hardships, but also times of joy. Take Psalm 126 for example:

It seemed like a dream, too good to be true,
    when God returned Zion’s exiles.
We laughed, we sang,
    we couldn’t believe our good fortune.
We were the talk of the nations—
    “God was wonderful to them!”
God was wonderful to us;
    we are one happy people.

4-6 And now, God, do it again—
    bring rains to our drought-stricken lives
So those who planted their crops in despair
    will shout “Yes!” at the harvest,
So those who went off with heavy hearts
    will come home laughing, with armloads of blessing.

Psalm 126, The Message

They have walked through the mundane, they have faced dangers and hardships along the way, but they arrive home exuberant “with arm-loads of blessing”; they are “one happy people”.!

We may be in that place, we may be experiencing a time of happiness! So let us be exuberant, let us rejoice, let us give thanks to the Lord. The Lord has blessed, let us give Him thanks. That pathway of prayer we have made is now filled with praise. That pathway to the scriptures is filled with remembrances of the Lord and His faithfulness. And that pathway to fellowship which we have established is now glorious as we worship God together.

It is not a time for self-reliance, it is not a time for pride as if we have arrived here in this place by our own hard work or doing, but it is a time to reflect and see how the Lord’s hand has been upon us and brought us to this place, a time to see how God has been faithful at sustaining us and upholding us. And from this place to have a deep sense of gratitude and thankfulness.

My dear friends, I don’t know what you have faced this year or the path you have walked, I’m sure at times it may have seemed like a long hard slog, at other times down-right hard, but I hope too that in the midst of that you have also experienced the joy of the Lord and can end the year with thankfulness. Whichever it has been may we walk on in that long obedience in the same direction day in and day out – “he who endure to the end will be saved!”

Endurance in the Hard

Last week we looked at enduring in the Mundane Everyday. But what happens when life throws a curve ball and we are plunged into the unexpected, the frightening, the unknown? How do we endure in our faith, remain faithful, remain obedient and trusting in the hard times?

We keep to the paths we have trod. Those paths we trod in the mundane, those paths we trampled on faithfully, perhaps every wearily, are the ones which will keep us when times are hard.

Remember the path to prayer – we go again, now in desperation we run to that place, we are glad we have established it and know the way to the place of prayer and we go pouring out our souls, our troubles, our anxieties, our fears. And we find grace to help in our time of need.

We tread that path of scripture reading – those words which we instilled within us in the everyday are the ones we now cling to in our need. Those words of truth are what overcome the lies of our doubts, those words of our Saviour, our suffering saviour are what comfort us in our need, we see our faithful God never forsaking His people and we see His love poured out for us on Calvary.

And that path of fellowship which is now established means we are able to go to our brothers and sisters in Christ and share our burdens with them. They are able to minister to us, feed us, hold us, pray with us because we have persevered over our shyness and trusted them with our every day, now we trust them with our sorrows, with our hearts.

We are able to endure in the hard because we have already laid the ground-work of being faithful in the everyday, of enduring the mundane, so that we have the well-worn paths to tread when hardship stri

Endurance in the Mundane

So, as the Name of my Blog suggests I’m very much into ‘finding God in the everyday’. God has got to be real, He has to be there in the everyday, there is no use having a faith for the hard times, or a belief in a distant God, but God here and now day in and day out.

So it is no surprise then that in following on from my new year word ‘endure’ that I have to apply that in my every day.

So what does it look like to endure in your faith in the every day when mostly your every day is mundane? Most of us the majority of the time don’t live in times of crises, they may come and go, but thankfully the majority of the time we are just plodding on going to work, keeping house, looking after family, attending our church. My question is not so much where is God in this, but where am I? What can I do to keep my faith alive, bright and growing?

At the moment I am reading ‘Everyday Faithfulness’: the Beauty of Ordinary Perseverance in a Demanding World by Glenna Marshall where I am seeing her echoing and articulating my own thoughts of this faithfulness in the everyday. She says

Faithfulness to Christ is a daily, lifelong pursuit. A lifetime of daily faithfulness will be full of unremarkable single days of faithfulness. And what encourages us to be steadfast on a daily basis is keeping an eye on this lifelong perseverance Jesus spoke of in Matthew 24:13. Rather than fading from following Him because our love has grown cold, ‘the one who endures to the end will be saved'” (Pg 22)

A lifetime of daily faithfulness will be full of unremarkable single days of faithfulness – yet, yet it is those daily unremarkable single days which are really laying the foundation of our faithfulness, so that in the good and the bad we are able to endure and remain faithful.

How? By treading a path to prayer, so that it is well worn, so we that know the way, so we will know the way in the dark, so we will know the way through our fears, we will know the way to the Father and will be no stranger coming to Him in our time of need.

By treading a path to scripture every day we are reorienting our hearts onto the truths of God’s Word, we are learning the truths of His character and His ways, so that when ill winds blow and doubts assail, we can stand on the truths of His Word and His character.

Another path we tread in our everyday faithfulness is the path of fellowship. We commit to a local fellowship and we turn up, we commit. If we neglect this path we will not know what it is like to ‘stir one another up to love and good deeds’, we miss the opportunity to encourage and be encouraged by others.

Building habits, treading paths of discipline, walking the long road, takes discipline and patience, it requires vigilance and endurance and commitment to the long view of faithfulness and our sanctification. We need to pace ourselves, we need to be steady and committed and to keep on going. Growth doesn’t happen in one big decision, but in the hundreds of daily little ones we make. We need to keep before us Jesus, looking to Him, knowing that each step we tread in the long plod is worth it when we become more like Him and when we see Him more clearly.

Endure – A Review

It has been a while since I have met with you here on the blog, but absence hasn’t meant that I haven’t thought of you and wanted to reach out, but I’ve had a necessary ‘time apart’, a time of reflection, a time of learning, leaning in and listening.

I have been reflecting on my New year word ‘Endure’ and as we fast approach the end of this year, 2022, I want to take this month of November, before all the Advent Reflections begin, to reflect on that word and how it has unfolded for me over the year.

I began my new year post with a definition of ‘Endure’ which is = The ability to continue with an unpleasant or difficult situation, experience or activity over a long period of time.

And throughout the year I have come to experience that endurance is ‘long obedience in the same direction. I had felt at the time that the endurance wasn’t that the year was going to be full of difficulties which had to be overcome, but more in the sense of being faithful and keeping on being faithful, keeping on being obedient whether in the ups and downs or just in the daily plod of everyday life.

So over the following 3 weeks I want to look at:

1) Endurance in the mundane everyday ;

2) Endurance in the Hard things and

3) Endurance in the Joy and happy things.

Hope you will join with me in these next three weeks!