The dictionary definition of endurance is “the fact or power of enduring an unpleasant or difficult process or situation without giving way.” We all have had to ride out times of “unpleasant or difficult” situations. Have you ever sat down to ask yourself what gave you the strength? Hopefully as we grow in our faith, we learn to rely on God for the strength to endure trials. And there’s a key ingredient that God often uses to give us endurance, that’s easy to overlook.
Think about Nehemiah’s story for example. Give it a read if you never have before (you’ll find it mid-way through the Old Testament). A cursory understanding of Nehemiah’s story shows that he was fixated on one thing—walls—rebuilding Jerusalem’s walls, specifically. But why the obsession? For a people who had just come back from exile, you would think they might have other priorities.
4 The king said to [Nehemiah], “What is it you want? Then I prayed to the God of heaven, 5 and I answered the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it.” (Nehemiah 2:4-5, NIV)
Nehemiah recognized that it was never merely about rebuilding the walls, it resembled a far deeper work—the rebuilding of the people’s identity. Purpose acts as the fuel for endurance.
Coming out of exile and captivity, ancient Israel was discombobulated. They needed to remember who they were and what Yahweh, the God of Israel, had brought them back for. There is a keyword: “for.” Nehemiah reminded the people what they were here for. He reminded them of their purpose—their why. When he led people in and around this common goal he found great success; not because everything came easy but because they were not easily broken. The ability to endure is the capacity to keep at the goal even when opposing forces are working against you. Nehemiah 4 & 6
They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.” But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.” (Nehemiah 6:9)
Nothing came easy for Nehemiah in his task of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. But adversity has a way of either stopping us or emboldening us. Again, purpose acts as the fuel for endurance. Like gasoline to a flame, firey opposition only reanimates a leader’s passion for their cause. We need to know our “why” if we want to succeed in accomplishing God’s vision for our lives.
Every great task will be met by adversity. If God isn’t in it, then Demons won’t feel the need to oppose it.
So the question is: Am I living with a purpose that makes enemies with the Devil? Or are the demons content with my life’s ambitions being where they are? And let’s not get this twisted. The importance of our God-given task does always not amount to the number of people you influence. The task of raising your kids to be passionate Jesus-followers is a holy labor! Leading a Life Group has a ripple effect on the lives of those you lead and those they influence around them. The conversations you have in the halls of your work might be the seeds that become the starter kit of someone’s faith journey. Don’t underestimate your influence. And don’t give up.
So, when you feel like quitting…
1) Remember why you started. Purpose is the fuel that feeds and energizes you!
2) Reflect on how far you have come. Because everything looks like failure in the middle.
3) Rediscover the dream of what can become if we persevere. Because what God leads you to commit to has the potential to make a mark that echoes into eternity.
After all, God does not give purpose that He will not cause to prevail through means of faithful endurance (Isaiah 46:10). He carried out His purposes for Nehemiah (the walls got rebuilt!) in the face of adversity, and He promises to do the same for you!