So, I’ve gone back and forth as to how many more lessons I learned from my Mom that I would write about, and after mulling over my notes I think I will make this one the last one, primarily because it sums up what all else I would have said.
Among the greatest spiritual lessons I took away from my Mom was the importance of and key to Joyful Endurance. My Mother was one who endured. But that in and of itself is nothing to shout about or jump up and down over, because after all there are all sorts of individuals, believers and non-believers alike, that endure. Just simply enduring is something that most people write off as “just a part of life.” And yes, at some level that is accurate. Enduring the everyday as well as the abnormal twist and turns of life is something that all who wake up in the morning and still have life routinely do. So just enduring life and what it throws our way in and of itself is not necessarily something that is noteworthy or praiseworthy. However there is a type of endurance that does raise an eyebrow. There is a flavor of endurance that sends off an aroma that is not typical. There is a way to endure that can leave one standing head and shoulders above most. And that is the endurance of a “good soldier.” More specifically, a good soldier of Jesus Christ. And what does it mean to be a good soldier of Jesus Christ?
Well for those who are Christians, we have placed our hope not in the things of this world, but we have placed our hope in the promise of the world to come (2 Corinthians 4:17-18). And as a result, our faith then propels us to think and live and believe in a certain way in the here and now. A way that is counter-cultural. A way that is against the norm. A way that is in humble obedience and conformity to the way of our Master. Included in this new way of thinking and living and believing also includes how the believer handles the trials and test and difficulties of life. For those who are without Christ and without the aid of the Holy Spirit, some typical responses in the face of difficulties are to despair or to give up or lose hope or quit or retaliate and lash out at others and maybe even blame others for the problems that are being faced. But not so for the believer. For the believer, though we may experience all these emotions (and it is perfectly normal that we do), the ultimate difference is that we do not remain in this frame of mind (2 Corinthians 4:8-9). There is a power greater than ourselves that enables us to see past our current circumstances and to see with the eyes of faith that everything that is happening to us is for a divine and greater purpose (Romans 8:28).
The result of this is what? That we do not lose heart. That we do not give up. That we do not faint. But even still more than that. Not just that we don’t lose heart, or don’t give up, or don’t faint. But we do this joyfully. With a smile. With laughter. With a genuine peace and calm and assurance that at the end of the day all will be well because all is well with our souls. And when one knows this to be true at the very deepest level, then they are able to march through the difficulties of this life because they know it is only temporary. There is an abiding and unfathomable hope that is laid up for the Christian beyond this life, and it is beyond all comparison!…especially when ultimately weighed against what seemed to be a hard struggle here on earth.
And my Mom exemplified this principle well. She showed me well what it was like to not just have this hope in theory, but in actuality. She ran her race well. She fought the good fight. She kept the faith. And I am confident her light, momentary affliction prepared for her an eternal weight of glory – a weight that only becomes even more glorious on the heels of endurance. Therefore, let us also endure. But no need for us to endure in sorrow. Let us endure with joy. We are headed somewhere where suffering and sorrow and pain will be no more. Just a few more rolling suns at most. So hang in there. Endure.
And for those who don’t yet believe – I want to encourage you to place your faith in Christ today. He is the only hope for you to be able to endure with joy. Apart from Him there is no salvation and therefore no reason to endure. But when He is your hope, then there is all the reason in the world to endure. Put your faith in Him today. And He will help you endure until the end…with joy!