Think over your life yesterday. Did you make it through the day because your heart kept beating or because you courageously fought your way through to its end? How about the past month or year? Are you another year older in the Lord because the calendar pages flipped or because ‘through many dangers, toils, and snares you have already come’?
In the context of the trials, persecutions and signs of the end of the age our Master said, “By your endurance gain your lives” (Luke 21:19, HCSB). We would do well to apply this to ourselves and, in so doing, see how we’re doing.
We are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. That is bedrock, non-negotiable truth. But at the same time, throughout the Scriptures there is the language of endurance directed towards those who follow the true and living God. Why? Because the post-conversion life of the Christian is not an easy one. (If you haven’t discovered that to be true, you probably aren’t spending enough time with the elder saints in your church. They know it.)
Jesus went on to say that others “will faint from fear and expectation of the things coming on the world,” (Luke 21:26 HCSB) but we are not to be like them. Rather, our Commander gives the order to endure when he says, “stand up” and “life up your heads” (Luke 21:28)–hardly the actions of those who cower.
Of course, the only reason we have any resolve whatsoever is because of the empowering gift of the Spirit whom Jesus has given to us. It is not a man-made courage or perseverance, although we would be wise and right to seek to possess those as well. Our great God promises to fully equip us for every battle, every trial–even every daily life things like water heaters breaking, flat tires, and traffic jams. Those may not be on the same scale as being a persecuted believer in other parts of the world, but still, how we “endure” through those things matters too. All of it is for God’s glory and our perfecting.
Jesus concluded his words about endurance in this discourse by also commanding, “be alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36). A slow and methodical re-read of that verse shows how loaded with endurance terminology it is. And why? To escape the things that were to begin happening at the end of the age–which technically began after Pentecost, so you’re living in it now if you did not know that already–but also to endure until you hear those long-awaited and very undeserved words of grace and mercy, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Dear reader, don’t settle for existing through each day. Wake up with the Scriptures and prayer to the Lord, and look to endure. And do it in community with other saints, in the local church, like God has arranged for you (and me) to do.
Walk. Pray. Worship. Endure!