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Day 19: Enduring Hard Things

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…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

I have been a distance runner for over twenty years. I competed at the collegiate level, running both cross country and track, and my legs have logged thousands and thousands of miles. My favorite race is the mile and my personal best was a 5:20. If you’re a non-runner that means nothing. If you’re a runner then you’re probably remembering your favorite race and personal best too.

We are a competitive breed of athlete. That’s for sure.

It was hard. And painful. And I was sore and winded most days. I’ve endured scorching hot summers and frozen winters where I came back with icicles on my eyelashes and I have questioned my ability and my sanity at times. Especially when I’d be standing waist deep in a frozen ice bath after a long practice.

Just like Jesus, we can endure hard things in our lives, and we can do it with an attitude of patience if we choose. It says that “for the joy set before Him, He endured…”

What exactly did Jesus endure?

People who misunderstood Him. Mocked Him. Ridiculed Him. Despised Him. Beat Him. And eventually killed Him. Yet we don’t see Him impatient and complaining during his “enduring” do we?

How did He choose patience during His trials? He visualized the joy that is set before Him. He knew that His suffering was for a greater purpose. It wasn’t in vain.

We are not people without a happy ending. And if you don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel YET, it’s ok. You know that it’s not the end yet. Listen to this…

For examples of patience in suffering, dear brothers and sisters, look at the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. We give great honor to those who endure under suffering. For instance, you know about Job, a man of great endurance. You can see how the Lord was kind to him at the end, for the Lord is full of tenderness and mercy. James 5:10-11

Job was a blameless man of the Old Testament who was wealthy in both spirit and material possessions. And as the story goes, he went through the complete loss and destruction of his entire world, through no fault of his own. He was confused and criticized. His friends thought it must have been the wrath of God teaching him a lesson and they judged him for his suffering.

During his first test in Chapter 1, Job goes through the loss of all his livestock and servants and the death of all his children and it says, In all of this, Job did not sin by blaming God.

The second chapter brings even more trials. Job was afflicted with terrible boils from head to toe and was left scraping his skin with broken pottery sitting among the ashes. At this point, even his wife is against him saying, “Are you still trying to maintain your integrity? Curse God and die.”

But Job replied, “You talk like a foolish woman. Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?” So in all this, Job said nothing wrong. (Job 2:9-10)

Fortunately, Job had three good friends who heard of his condition and came to support him. They stayed with him day and night for seven days and did not say a word because they saw his suffering was so great.

A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need. Prov 17:17

But even they started questioning Job as he clung by a string to his integrity and faith, hoping that there was a reason for his suffering. Even though he didn’t understand it. He couldn’t understand it.

In the end, 42 chapters later, Job realizes that he had only understood God conceptually before and now he had seen Him with his own eyes. He had a personal experience of God’s power and his pride of, “Why me?” had melted and Job repented.

…AND it says God restored his fortunes twice as much as before. Blessing him with 10 more children and a long and fulfilling life.

Enduring trials is simply a part of life. Sometimes no amount of reasoning or questioning can give us answers. We are tempted to shift to the “Why me?” thinking. Why should I have to endure an addiction? Why is my child walking astray when I was such a good and loving parent? Why am I sick or struggling financially? WHY ME? I am a good person. I believe in You. I am doing my best. WHY ME?

This may offer some hope and infuse some patience into your spirit in difficult time.

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4: 17-18.

I love that description of our physical reality. Momentary. Light. Affliction. It helps put it all in perspective. We look not to what is seen, but to what is unseen. And what is unseen? Faith. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. If we saw it now, we wouldn’t need faith. Faith is believing that God is good and He sees your suffering. Faith is knowing God cares and won’t leave you alone. Faith is trusting that the end of a thing will be better than the beginning.

Have patience. Place your hope in God. Know that weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning. God’s grace is sufficient for you.

Day 19 Lenten Love Prayer:

Thank you God for your patience with me. Even when I have been a complainer. An ungrateful child and a doubter. Forgive me for not trusting the path that you have laid before me. Forgive me for assuming my life was supposed to be trial-free. Forgive me for thinking, “WHY ME?” Thank you for reminding me in Philippians, “but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Let me forget what is behind me. I will not talk about it, rehash it, question it or despise it. I will learn from it. I will see your grace and mercy in it. I will allow my trials to draw me closer to You. In the midst of them, I will praise You because I know the end of a thing is better than the beginning and choose patience over pride. I know you are working all things together for good for me and I choose to trust You today in the mess knowing that it will someday be my mess-age to help draw others to you. Your ways are higher. And I’m so glad about that.

Day 19 Scripture:

Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. – Ecclesiastes 7:8