ABC Extra – Building Your Endurance

May 14, 2012 at 5:15 am 1 comment

When I lived in north Austin, there was a park close to the house at which I was staying with a beautiful jogging trail, complete with lots of forested areas and a breathtaking open field full of wildflowers.  At the time, I was overweight, so I decided taking up running might be just the thing to help me shed those unwanted pounds.  So one afternoon, I hit the gravel.  The trail was a mile and each tenth of a mile was marked.  I made it about two- tenths of a mile before I had to stop.  I was dripping with sweat.  I was out of breath.  But most of all, I was embarrassed.  “Two-tents of a mile?” I thought to myself.  “That’s not even once around a running track!”

After my embarrassing initial outing, I knew something had to change.  So I went out again…and again…and again.  I sweated.  I grunted.  I pushed myself.  I was tempted to give up and tap out.  But I knew the more I ran, the more my body and health would be transfigured and transmuted.  And so, I endured.  And that endurance made all the difference.

These days, I am thankfully many pounds lighter and can run much farther.  A three-mile run is now a part of my daily routine.  Although now, being a little older and wiser, I know that pre-dawn mornings in Texas are much better for running than are sun-scorched afternoons.  But beyond the temperature, it is my endurance that made all the difference in my health and fitness.  Endurance was the key.

In our text for this past weekend from 2 Corinthians 6, Paul rattles off a list of the hardships and joys he has experienced in ministry:

As servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything. (2 Corinthians 6:4-10)

With such a lengthy list, it does not take long to discover that Paul has had more than his fair share of ups and downs in ministry – everything from beatings and imprisonments and sorrows to purity and love and rejoicing.  Yet, it is the first thing in Paul’s list of ups and downs that sets the tone for the rest of Paul’s list:  endurance.  Paul writes, “As servants of God we commend ourselves in every way:  in great endurance” (verse 4).  Through all of ministry’s ups and downs, Paul highlights one thing that has made all the difference in his ministry:  endurance.  The Greek word for “endurance” is hypomonemone, meaning “to stand,” and hypo, meaning “under.”  Thus, to “endure” means to “stand up under” even the toughest times.  The great New Testament scholar William Barclay comments on hypomone:

It describes the ability to bear things in such a triumphant way that it transfigures them and transmutes them. Chrysostom has a great panegyric on this, this triumphant Christian endurance. He calls it the root of all goods, the mother of piety, the fruit that never withers, a fortress that is never taken, a harbor that knows no storms.[1]

Barclay’s thoughts describe precisely what Paul does with the ups and downs of his ministry.  He endures through them so that he might be transfigured and transmuted.  Rather than giving up or tapping out, Paul endures.  And you should too.

What ups and downs are you experiencing in your life?  When you endure through them, God can change you by them.  God can use them to “conform us to the likeness of His Son” (Romans 8:29).  So stand up under hardship.  Stand up under good times as well.  For standing up under life, which is the very definition of endurance, can be used by God for His purposes.  And God’s purposes will endure long after you fail and falter.  His endurance is an endurance we all need – for life and for eternity.

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[1] William Barclay, The Letters to the Corinthians (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1954), 237.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Irene M.  |  May 14, 2012 at 9:28 am

    This is a hard lesson to learn. I thought learning patience while raising children was a challenge. LOL But caring for an angry, toxic parent is a weekly lesson in endurance. So many tell me to put her away in a home, ignore her, stop contact. But I don’t think that’s what God has called me to do. Yet “enduring” her bad attitude and manipulative behavior is tiring. I’m sure God will bring me through it and I’ll look back and see it was good for me. 🙂


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