The Encourager

The Encourager

“Spiritual Endurance”

Spiritual Endurance

By Jeff Curtis


     Throughout history, God’s people, who have faced difficult trials, have cried out for answers, asking, “Why?” However, for the most part, God has remained silent, with no answer coming from heaven. It may be that in times of suffering, what people of faith need the most from the Lord is not answers to “why” questions, but wisdom to know “how” they should respond to difficult times (James 1:5). Some questions might be more appropriate; 1) “Lord, what do You want me to learn from this?” 2) “How can this make me a better person?” 3) “How can I use this experience to bring glory to Your name?”


    I’m not suggesting that if we ask the right questions, we will the answers we want from the Lord. However, it is possible that we will be enabled to deal with difficulties. Trials can destroy us if we wallow in self-pity or become angry at God because of them. But they can produce steadfastness (endurance) if we approach our trials in the proper way. James the, the brother of Jesus, said, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance” (James 1:2-3).


     God allows trials in our lives to test our faith, in by doing so, His desire is that we will develop spiritual muscles (endurance). This is in harmony with the concept that weight lifters understand well. They have the expression, “No pain, no gain.” In order to develop strong muscles, an individual must have resistance, something to work against, and that involves pain.


     The same principle in involved in developing spiritual muscles. That’s why the Lord told His disciples that would suffer grievous trials; rejection by their own families and friends, hatred, persecution, and even death at the hands of their enemies, but He said. “It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony” (Luke 21:13). In other words, trials and persecution will give us an opportunity to grow stronger, by using the defensive armor of God, along with “the sword of the Spirit” and “the shield of faith” (Ephesians 6:16-17). So, by trusting in the Lord, and properly using His spiritual armor and weapons, we can develop spiritual muscles that turns hatred and persecution into a “testimony” of how to live. And if necessary, how to die like Jesus. Two powerful examples of this are; 1) Stephen’s testimony and prayer, all while being stoned (Acts 7:57-60), and 2) Paul and Silas’ songs of praise and prayer after being unjustly beaten and put in prison in Philippi (Acts 16:19-34).


     In the case of Rebekah, it was not just opposition from without that troubled her, it was also the struggles from within that distressed her, her own inadequacy and inability to conceive and child. She probably remembered the blessing of her family before she left for the land of Canaan to meet her future husband, “May you, our sister, become thousands of ten thousands, and may your descendants possess the gate of those who hate them” (Genesis 24:60). However, after twenty years of marriage, Rebekah was still without a child, and she may have thought that the Lord was playing some kind of cruel joke on her. Was she too proud or afraid to approach God in prayer about her infertility?


     Had she never prayed to the Lord about this on her own? Could it be that she was ashamed to request her husband Isaac intercede with God concerning her desperate condition? The text does not provide any answers to these questions. Whatever the case, in spite of her doubts and fears, Rebekah finally cast her cares upon the Lord through her husband’s prayer (1Peter 5:7), and God answered in a positive way, enabling her to conceive and give birth to twins.