Endurance

The rich diversity of the church in Africa after many years and the long slow endurance of many. 



Scripture:

Heb. 10:32    But recall those earlier days when, after you had been enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, 33 sometimes being publicly exposed to abuse and persecution, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. 34 For you had compassion for those who were in prison, and you cheerfully accepted the plundering of your possessions, knowing that you yourselves possessed something better and more lasting. 35 Do not, therefore, abandon that confidence of yours; it brings a great reward. 36 For you need endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.

Observation:

Following Christ is a life-long journey of endurance. At times it will be filled with struggles, sufferings, exposure to abuse and persecution and joining others in their pain. Compassion is a mark of endurance, and the sharing of our possessions with those in need. There is confidence in this relationship with Christ and we must endure to the end, through the good times and the bad. That’s how we receive what we were promised; eternity in a relationship with our holy God. 

Application:

Enduring through difficulties doesn’t sound very inspiring. We all want instant gratification, knowing that what we are doing is going to bring some kind of a result — and soon! But life just doesn’t always work that way. Instead, we are invited into a Christian life, a journey which is for the long-haul. Somehow in God’s estimation, time is simply different, and what may appear to be an eternity to us, is simply the blink of an eye. Therefore, while we are on this journey in the flesh, we are encouraged to endure, for it will be worth it all. 

I’ve thought much about endurance during my time in Africa. The church in South Africa will soon celebrate 100 years of ministry, and yet, I imagine that those who were engaged in the work at first, could not imagine what would happen on the continent. A hundred years ago there were 10 million Christians on the entire continent, and by the year 2000, there were 346 million. Projections are that by 2025 there will be 600 million Christians in Africa. Our tribe, the Church of the Nazarene, has doubled in the last ten years, growing to over 750,000 members. Did anyone imagine this happening to Africa 100 years ago? Or was there a lesson on endurance that needed to be learned? 

Our confidence is in Christ Jesus, not the things of this world, nor success as defined by this world. Instead, we are to invest with the long-view in mind. Nearly 100 years ago my husband’s great-grandfather sold his worldly possessions to help plant a church in Pennsylvania. He believed that God was calling him to sacrifice for the sake of the kingdom of God, and an investment in a future which he may never see. Yes, the investment  did result in a vibrant church, but it went way beyond a building. He demonstrated to his children that commitment and obedience to Christ was worth everything. Seeds of faith were planted in the lives of his children, which began to bloom in his grand-children, great-grandchildren and today his great-great grandchildren. So far, 15 of his descendants have attended Nazarene Theological Seminary and served God through some form of ministry, as well as countless others who are faithfully serving in other ways. I don’t think he could have ever imagined the long-term impact of his wholehearted commitment and sacrifice to follow Jesus Christ but he believed in enduring and investing with a long-view in mind. 

There will be days of discouragement, but we cling to the promises and continue to press on, enduring in confidence. God is faithful and has promised to be with us to the very end — not just our end! Endurance is not just about us, but about those whose lives will be impacted when we aren’t around to see the results. Today we press on with grateful hearts. 

Prayer:

Lord, open my eyes to press on in faithful endurance. Amen. 

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