I have been thinking a lot, over the past few days, about what it means to endure. At church on Sunday, the pastor spoke on 1 John 2:12-17 with the title of Love that Overcomes. (you can check out the sermon here) It was a great message, but there was one part in specific that stuck out to me and that was about having enduring character.
I don't know about you, but I feel like the word "endure" has a negative connotation. For me it puts a sour taste in my mouth; it reminds me of the icky difficult times in life where someone has had to encourage me to "hang in there!" or "stick it out!" Literally- ENDURE! Ugh- I hate that. When you're in a hard place, you never want to hear hang in there- you want someone to affirm you in your frustrations and say- "yeah, man totally- get out of there! bail bail bail!" But that's almost never the right thing to do.
To endure, by definition, means "to carry on through, despite hardships; undergo" or "to bear with tolerance." The more I think about it, isn't that really what life is in entirety? Aren't we simply to endure- through it all? Maybe I am speaking as a bit of a negative nancy because I feel like I am being challenged in this area of enduring in several instances in my life right now. Here's a little snippet of what's going on in my world of enduring.
My husband works at a job in the investment banking world; this is not your average run of the mill job where you work 40-50 hours a week and come home to your wife for dinner, spend the weekend relaxing. No no, this job is hard core. Last week, he worked 95 hours. Let me say it one more time so you actually believe me 95 hours. That is not normal nor is that okay in my opinion, I don't believe that is how God created us to operate. This has been very difficult for both me and my husband. I love him, so of course I want to be able to see him more- I don't want to be sitting at home wondering if he is going to be home for dinner only to find out he will actually be working until 5:00 a.m. But then I need to expand my perspective and think of how it affects him. He is living in a world of expectations; what I expect of him as a husband, what his boss expects of him, and what he himself expects. And that is exhausting. He barely gets any sleep. He had maybe 12 hours off this past weekend. He is spent- and yet I am so proud of him because he just keeps plugging along. He, right now, is a perfect example for me of what it means to endure.
So as you might now see, when the pastor said something in reference to having enduring character- I seriously chuckled to myself a little bit because I feel like that is the story of my life right now. And to be honest- the idea of enduring right now just makes me wanna barf. But then I am challenged because this is exactly what God is asking us to do. It is exactly what Christ did for us on the cross. He didn't say, "no way God- I'm not doing this, I'm not carrying on through this whipping and being nailed to the cross- I'm out." He stuck it out, he literally hung in there for our sakes. And that's where I think the word endure takes a turn.
As I was thinking about what endure means and thinking about all the negative aspects, it made me think- well why do we say that God has enduring love then? How can one really good thing- be mixed with something that feels so heavy! And then it hit me. When you combine the word endure with love it becomes a whole other matter. Enduring love is awesome. Enduring love is a love that carries on through despite hardships, no matter what. That is the love that God has for us - and it's what God is asking us to do; to have enduring love for him and to have enduring love for those around us.
That is super hard. Last night I got in an argument with someone very dear to me and it was just icky. And all I could think of during the argument was endure, endure, endure. And when you are angry that is not something that you want to hear. I really wanted to chuck the phone across the room- but I didn't because I love her and I want to show that enduring love that God loves me with, to her. I want to be a demonstration that I will love others through all the hardships, through all the ick, and not run the other way when difficulty arises.
I feel like this post took a turn from what I originally thought it was going to be. I thought I was going to write about what enduring looks like and how we need to lean into our awesome God who has an enduring love for us, so that we might be able to endure through the tough stuff. (how many times have I said endure in this post? hah). But what I feel like has come out of this is the reminder that- having enduring love is such a tricky thing, and yet isn't that the mark of a believer? In John 13:35 Jesus said, "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
Moral of the story: I need to endure in more ways than one. I need to endure through this heavy time with my husband working all the time, carrying on through it. I need to be thankful for the enduring, never-ending, unconditional love that God has for me. And I need to work on my execution of enduring love. I haven't changed my mind that enduring is difficult- because that would be a lie- but I think I have been reaffirmed in that enduring is worth it.