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—Psalm 126, The Message
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.
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!”