“But you, man of God, must avoid these things. Pursue what God approves of: a godly life, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight for the Christian faith. Take hold of everlasting life to which you were called and about which you made a good testimony in front of many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:11, 12 GWT)
Even though Paul’s instructions to Timothy are more than one in this passage, we will purposefully focus on one important word: endurance. The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary describes this word as, “the ability to continue doing something painful or difficult for a long period of time without complaining.” Let us depend upon the power and authority of God as He elucidates the term endurance to us in a more profound way.
Endurance can simply be termed as the ability to endure successfully under difficult circumstances. Our attitude determines our response. Let us take for example the effort of learning to drive a car. Suppose someone joins a driving school. Let us assume that due to lack of sufficient knowledge on driving he meets with an accident. According to you, what manner of attitude he must have? He has only two choices: quit learning or continue learning. Any skill needs perseverance to be developed. You do not become a football champion in one day. You cannot become a professional graphic designer in one week. You and I need to persevere in whatever job we are engaged in order to gain sufficient experience in it so that we can do it better each time.
There is a considerable lacuna between decision and fulfillment. This gap must be filled with trust in God, hard work and perseverance. It is human nature to desire success and achievement. But crores of people give up when things don’t happen as they expect. Let me remind my reader that we will focus only on endurance and perseverance in this article even though there are many related and helpful points concerning success.
We all have desires. We eagerly wait for our best results in examinations, interviews and competitions. But do we have any idea of what true success actually means? Isn’t it foolishness to give up if not successful in the first attempt? Failures must never let us down. True success is not the lack of failure, but it is the inner passion and commitment to try and try until you win at last.
Discouragement may creep into our hearts when we encounter failure. Such occasions are strong enough to lead us to negative thinking. Learn to look upon Jesus at such crucial moments. I am not saying to put a photo of Christ on the wall and gaze on it. But look upon Him through your heart with godly fear, devotion and trembling. The Lord reveals Himself to those who are humble and available for His purposes. Look unto Jesus with your eyes of faith. When you concentrate on your wonderful Savior, no discouragement can overcome you.
To overcome discouragement and negative thoughts meditating and recollecting the scriptures (in our minds) is a good solution. Practice the habit of reading your Bible. Listen to God as He speaks to you through its pages. The Bible has the power to transform us into the nature of Christ. A diligent seeker of truth will find it enjoyable to read the Bible and find meaning and purpose in life. God’s power will fill you with His peace whenever you are weak inside, provided you fill your hearts and minds with the unique Word of God.
Discouragement can come into our lives through other people. There are people who are well trained in talking negatively. Such people know well how to discourage someone who has just stepped into a new profession and is just learning to grow in that particular field. If we do not take care of this and mingle with such people, it is no use to be sorry afterwards.
When we focus on our circumstances rather than on Christ, we may feel disheartened and discouraged. “Keep your eyes on Jesus, our leader and instructor.” (Hebrews 12:2 TLB) “---David found strength in the Lord his God.” (1 Samuel 30:6 NCV) A godly devotion to our Lord and Master pleases God and He delights in strengthening such people. Our circumstances are not the final word, God’s promises are. When you are bankrupt, or your wallet is empty due to huge medical bills, when the medical report says that your life is under threat, when someone in your family suddenly becomes an alcoholic, when fear envelops your ambitions, when your most loved ones become your worst enemies, keep your eyes on Jesus, our leader and instructor.
Keeping away from discouragement and disheartening thoughts is not just one thing you need to cultivate the attitude of endurance. Endurance helps us live a life of meaning and this helps in being a good example to others. Life’s meaning is not hidden in how much you gained, but in how much you did from the little you already have. Some people think that toiling hard day and night and then receiving wealth and riches is real success. But real success is utilizing your resources in the best possible way, no matter how less it may be, so that God’s name will be glorified through the little you have.
I am not encouraging my reader to endure strongly in matters of attempts and struggles to gain worldly wealth. Show your endurance in helping others, forgiving others, encouraging others, praying for others, in other words, do not struggle to uplift yourselves but in elevating others. God has given the little or more that you have, not to satisfy your selfish desires, but that through them you can be a comfort and blessing to other people.
With this attitude in mind, if we develop the habit of endurance, we will find it delightful and pleasant to live responsibly each day. But if our concentration and purpose is self-gain, we have already become a failure in the eyes of God who sees everything in the light of truth. May God help us to live a life of endurance for the blessings and benefit of others. Be a blessing!