How to Endure Hard Trials
Hope is the consolation of the disappointed Christian and it is frequently followed by a period of waiting on God to act. When this waiting is prolonged, endurance becomes essential.
Endurance is defined as “the ability to last, continue, or remain—the ability to stand pain, distress, fatigue.” In fact, endurance is a word derived from the Latin indurare, which means “to hold out.”
Stamina vs. Endurance
Some track coaches have made a distinction between stamina and endurance by explaining stamina as the capacity to hold near-top speed over, say, 400 meters. Endurance, however, is what the marathoner has: the capability to maintain a steady pace, despite weariness, over a long distance.
Family problems, financial worries, physical or emotional difficulties, temptation, grief, and even God’s chastening test our endurance.
What We Can Learn from Job’s Endurance
We can look to the story of Job as just one example. Job, who was a participant in this endurance test, suffered so greatly that he lamented, “Man that is born of a woman is of few days and full of troubles.”
Ages later, Paul’s thorn in the flesh demanded its share of endurance, too. God’s Word to him was, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9).
No doubt it was from this fire-tested faith that Paul later wrote to young Timothy, saying: “Endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” and “be watchful in all things, endure afflictions.”
Paul said this because he recognized endurance as the mark of a true Christian, one who can echo with Paul, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.”
The Blessing of Endurance
So, we know that as Christians, we are called to spiritual endurance. Yet, just as there is a reward for physical endurance, there is a reward for spiritual endurance. James wrote of this when he said, “We count them blessed who endure” (James 5:11). While there is a cost to suffering, Job’s example reminds us that the words of James are indeed true.
Job lost his possessions, his children, and his health. His well-meaning friends pestered him. Yet, he imperfectly but steadfastly endured to the very end. And the result of that endurance was triumph. Spiritually, Job reaped a deeper relationship with God—stating, ”naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).
As he endured the trials, Job realized what you and I must also realize: God sets limits on what the devil can do (1 Cor. 10:13). Cling to that promise! Cling to the hope that, in his providence, God is working through the pain. And the result of God working is, as Job found, for our good. “When He has tried me, I shall come out as gold” (Job 23:10). And Job did emerge from his trial, refined and blessed. We are told that the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning (Job 42:12).
At the End of Your Rope?
There are lessons to be learned from Job: be patient, be repentant of sin, and persevere.
Endurance is the power to see life through. Often, it is associated with being captured by a cause and with integrity. It is also associated with the inner strength that proceeds from a faith that declares, “I had fainted, unless I had believed” (Psalm 27:13).
Believed what? For starters, that there are some things that are going to endure for eternity: God’s righteousness, his mercy, his truth, his authority, and his Word.
So, are you at the end of your rope? Some advice, “Tie a knot and hang there!” In other words: hold on… God will renew your strength.
This article was originally published in Disappointment, Hope and Beyond, which has been published in both English and Urdu.