Hang In There!Fr. Barnabas Powell
“Every calamity is to be overcome by endurance.” so says the ancient Roman poet Virgil.
The ability to have “stick-to-it-tiveness” is a learned trait. The fact is endurance is both a gift and a habit that can be developed. That means our ability to learn how to endure is something we hold within our power to control and something we should cherish as a great gift!
Most of us know someone in our lives that just seems to be able to endure a challenge until it’s overcome. The truth is we are amazed at their endurance. How do they do it? I knew a man a few years ago who faced personal and professional tragedy. About the same time his career was falling apart, his family was too. When he was asked “How are you able to keep going in the face of all this?” he answered “What choice do I have? Others depend on me.” He endured such heartache and tragedy, but his tragedy was temporary and his endurance strengthened his faith and his ability to face future challenges.
Endurance is fed by a nobility of vision. If a person has the grace to see beyond this or that temporary circumstance to deeper and more foundational truths, then the winds of trouble may blow hard in their lives, but they are never stronger than those rooted truths that hold the person firm. No wonder a deep rooted tree stands strong even in the face of a hurricane.
In our Gospel Lesson in Luke 21:12-19 our Lord warns His disciples that all who follow Him will face persecution and trouble. He says “By your endurance you will gain your lives.” Look at the passage:
The Lord said to his disciples, “Beware of men who will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. This will be a time for you to bear testimony. Settle it therefore in your minds, not to meditate beforehand how to answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and kinsmen and friends, and some of you they will put to death; you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives.”
Too many times in our lives we want magic over faith. We want some “quick-fix” or “magic formula” that will make our lives OK. And over and over again we prove these are just false fantasies that get us nowhere. The fad diet, the “fix everything” self-help book,” or even the religious “shortcut” all prove to be wishful thinking rather than the immediate remedy to our challenges and failings.
But the faith teaches us something else. The steady practice of the disciplines of the faith, the lives of endurance we read in the lives of the saints, the gift of living simply and with vision and purpose, all are the tried and true principles for learning how to endure in the face of whatever life throws at us. There is just is no short cut past this valuable life-giving lesson. No magic, just faithfulness.
Today, where are you lacking endurance? Just like the long distance runner, the man or woman of faith grows in endurance and faithfulness by the consistent and gradual daily endurances of spiritual discipline. In the face of a world and a society where the timeless faith is increasingly unwelcome, we must face head on the temptation to “relax” our discipline in the face of easier “paths” that lead us away from Christ and His Church. It is the joy of endurance that will liberate us to finally “gain” our lives. Just one more invitation to be Orthodox on Purpose!
P.S. I can’t wait for you to see the Demo Video for the Journey to Fullness video project! We are just days away from launching the video and you can be the first to know about it by sending me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me you want to see the demo! So, email me today and reserve your spot at the Premier! Keep up with the Journey to Fullness project on our website FaithEncouraged.org!