May 27, 2020
Ever since I renewed my personal commitment to Jesus about ten years ago, the Holy Spirit has helped me discover countless new treasures in God’s Word, making even the most familiar verses take on a fresh meaning. One such verse is 2 Timothy 2:3: “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”
For a long time, I thought that to “endure hardness” meant to resign myself to circumstances and tough it out even if it killed me. Such an interpretation made this verse seem to me more like a cruel command than a motivating, encouraging challenge. Thus I was unable to derive any comfort or inspiration from it.
But my take on this verse drastically changed when I read Hebrews 11:27 in the New International Version (NIV) for the first time. I had always known this scripture in the King James Version, which says concerning Moses, “He endured as seeing him who is invisible.” However, the NIV puts it this way: “He persevered because he saw him who is invisible.”
The word “persevered” caught my attention, making this passage take on new life. It helped me understand what the Holy Spirit was trying to say to me. Enduring hardness doesn’t have to be seen as mere fatalism and resignation. It can be seen as determination to persevere through whatever it is we’re facing, as we fix our eyes on our constant friend and companion who has promised to be with us till the end.1 This kind of outlook can help to ease our suffering and motivate us to remain steadfast until we see victory.
This perseverance was what enabled Jacob to endure working for Laban for 14 years in order to take Rachel for his wife. It also enabled him to not stop wrestling with the angel until he was blessed.2
Going back to Moses, his perseverance was what helped him endure the 40 years he spent in the wilderness tending sheep, followed by all the difficulties and challenges of the mission God gave him to free the Hebrews.
David also demonstrated the same perseverance as he waited several years for the fulfillment of the word Samuel spoke over him that he would reign in Saul’s place. Though the Bible doesn’t tell us exactly how many years this waiting period lasted, it is estimated to have taken between 15 and 22 years. During much of that time, it seems he did little else besides run from Saul. Even so, he stood firm and persevered through all that hardship, until God’s promise was fulfilled. This example is very helpful to me in moments when my patience is tried because of seeming delays in the fulfillment of God’s promises to me.
It’s obvious from Hebrews 12:2 that Jesus also found the endurance He needed by persevering and looking forward. “Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”3
We all face different situations and circumstances. But enduring them is not about suffering them with no joy whatsoever. If we persevere in faith and belief in God’s promises, and His unfailing presence in our lives, we will be comforted and motivated to carry on, and thus gain the victories He has planned for us, both in this life and in the life to come.
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