I’m tired. Are you tired?
I’m feeling weary. Can you relate?
2020 has attempted to squeeze every semblance of peace from our hearts. But it’s not over yet. In fact, I believe we can get through tough times, finish the year strong, and even head into 2021 with gusto.
Yes, it’s been a wildly historic year—forever marked by a global pandemic, growing awareness of racial injustice, political division, a rollercoaster economy, upside-down plans, sky-high anxiety, and a billion other uncertainties.
Personally, my kids have been in and out of school (currently: “distance learning” from home). Our family’s schedule has been, and continues to be, unpredictably messy. We’ve consistently been praying for family, friends, and strangers with COVID-19. And, as if life wasn’t crazy enough, we decided to get a quarantine puppy who, albeit darling, has broken two lamps and one iPhone, and has mastered stealing my food.
Now, here we are, heading into Christmas—not sure if, when, or how we should gather. Not certain what the coming weeks will entail. Not convinced it’s still a season for peace.
As I’ve read through the Bible this year (using this awesome Bible Plan), I’ve noticed a theme, especially in the New Testament. Verses like Hebrews 10:36, 2 Peter 1:6, Revelation 1:9, 2:2-3, 2:19, and 3:10, 2 Corinthians 1:6, 2 Timothy 2:24, and James 1:12 use the powerful phrase patient endurance.
When I first stumbled across those two words, positioned side by side, I took a long, deep breath for the first time in months.
Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. Hebrews 10:36 NLT
It might sound juvenile, but I often forget that following Jesus means needing to, having to, and getting to endure. To persevere. To not give up. And, well, I frequently forget the patient part too.
So, how do we obtain this patient endurance? Is it something we can really possess or more like a mystical unicorn—fun to think about, but not realistic?
Here are seven endurance-inducing reminders that I’m preaching to myself, in no particular order:
1. Reframe your perspective. If I’m honest, I desperately want heaven on earth—right now. I want a world without death and disease and tears and troubles. But Jesus already offered a disclaimer, saying, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Yes, He has initiated the greatest rescue mission ever known, but it’s not fully heaven-on-earth just yet. We must reframe our perspectives as we patiently endure. Wondering how to start? Our thoughts are powerful. Instead of focusing on all that’s going wrong, let’s follow Paul’s advice and fix our eyes on what’s good, true, right, and praiseworthy. What can you thank God for? What are some ways you’re growing as you endure trials? What are some ways God has brought you through a trial in the past?
2. Stay in the Word. Far beyond the cheesy Christian answer, we need to feed on Scripture. Why? Because we cannot know God without knowing His Word (i.e., what He says about Himself, what He says about us, and what He says about this beautiful world He’s made). It’s no secret that humans have spiritual amnesia; we forget God’s timeless truths and eternal promises. So, we must renew our minds day after day after day. And we must stay in the Word as we patiently endure.
3. Be practical by taking care of yourself. Eat. Sleep. Laugh. Exercise. Don’t stare at screens all day and all night. Don’t compare yourself to strangers on the internet (who probably took that selfie 14 times to get a flawlessly “natural” shot). Take a day off. Get out in nature. Chat with a friend, even if it’s over Zoom. Be honest about your struggles, confessing them to God. Make a list of the obvious gifts right in front of you. Also, a mug of hot chocolate with a generous spritz of whipped cream never hurt anyone—just sayin’. We can be practical as we patiently endure.
4. Be persistent. Specifically, be persistent in your need for the Holy Spirit. Buckle down, dig in your heels, and even say it out loud: “God, I cannot do this without you. I refuse. Will you help me?” And I promise, He will. Striving for righteousness without the power of God is not only ridiculous, it’s legalistic. We need His power in our churches. We need His power in our homes. We need His power so that His peace can fill our hearts and minds. Patience isn’t something we can self-manufacture. It’s a fruit of the Spirit—evidence of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. We need God’s power, daily, to patiently endure.
5. Faith over feelings. 2020 has brought all the feels, hasn’t it? There have been days that I’ve felt overwhelmed, frustrated, anxious, burned out, confused, restless, and hopeless—sometimes all at once. While feelings are legitimate, they don’t always reflect what’s true. But no matter what I feel, God is still on His throne. No matter what’s happening around me, He will get the final say. No matter how uncertain a situation seems, He’s always good, faithful, just, gracious, mighty, all-knowing, sovereign, and lots of other wonderful adjectives. We must have faith to patiently endure.
6. Reclaim your joy. Did you know that no one can take your joy? Happiness, yes. Joy, no. No one could take it from Paul in prison. No one could take it from Mary while people inevitably gossiped about her miraculous pregnancy. No one could take it from Job as he wrestled with unspeakable grief. Suffering is real, but Jesus is bigger. He never said we’d be immune from heartache, but He continually comforts the brokenhearted. We can cling to deep joy as we patiently endure.
7. Give grace, grace, and more grace. Grace, like when Jesus forgave the criminal on the cross next to Him. Grace, like what Jesus offered the woman caught in adultery. Grace, like the breath in our lungs, the sun on our face, and the gift of another day. Unwarranted and undeserved. A pure and utter gift. Grace for yesterday, grace for today, and grace for tomorrow. We must patiently endure with buckets of grace.
So, what compels me—personally—to patiently endure?
I often think about how, for thousands of years, people waited on the prophesied Messiah. In the meantime, they trusted in God, clung to truth, and stayed faithful to the promises set before them.
I also think about how, for thousands of years, people have been waiting on the Messiah to return—once and for all. In the meantime, they’ve been trusting in God, clinging to truth, and staying faithful to the promises set before them.
Times have certainly changed, yet also, they haven’t. We are called to trust God, cling to truth, stay faithful to the promises set before us, and patiently endure to the end.
Oh, and here’s the kicker on patiently enduring. We can’t do it without God. And we can’t do it without others. Sometimes, we need to admit we need help. Other times, we need to take the initiative to help others. So we will get through this—together. Especially when we remember to love one another, serve one another, support one another, be kind to one another, and meet needs for one another.
And as much as I wish 2021 were a magic reset button, it won’t be. But I do know this: God is always at work, even when we can’t see it. So, we can patiently endure to the end of this year and the beginning of the next, trusting that God is who He says He is, and His promises are true. I’ll leave you with one final reminder about the reward of our patient endurance:
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9 NIV
P.S: We know 2020 has been really, really difficult. If you’re struggling, we’d be honored to pray for you. Let us know how at www.life.church/prayer