Endurance is enduring. In Scripture it's not a momentary burst of resolve or even the stuff to weather a storm. A culture short on commitment tends to idolize those who stand tough for a season. Real endurance stretches our limits, and weathers storms, the many trials and tests of life. James wrote, "But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing" (James 1:4). It's the mark of a life and not a moment.
And, that's a problem. Think about it. The Fast and the Furious was a cinema sensation before the tragic death of actor Paul Walker, and since. The producers are anticipating ten (10) movies in the franchise. It's aimed at the millennials and popularizes themes that characterize them---speed, the edges of danger, super-coolness, questionable morals, pushing the envelope, and short involvements. Today fast-forwarded organizations like Fast Company, Google, Yahoo, are anticipating workforce dynamics when millennials comprise 75% of it, predicted in just ten years. Even now, average work tenure in the age group 25-34 is barely three years, significantly lower than the whole employed population. It's not a millennial bash either. They are extremely gifted, talented, and able workers. But, their leaders are planning "tours of duty" work assignments that are goal oriented and short in duration rather than career profiles. It's the new fast and furious world. Or, as the vet up the street advertises, the fast and furr-iest.
So, one of the paradigm shifts of the twenty-first century is an abbreviation of even such staples as endurance. OK, give it to me, but make it quick. It's the "tour of duty" thing again, expanded out of the work-place into just about every arena of life. And, it's systemic, not just the impact of the younger set. Golf courses are closing because the new world needs recreation to take less than five hours. Hype it up with a cup of dark roast fast-tracked by a shot of expresso or an energy drink chaser. There's high-speed internet, high-speed rail service, and Jet Fuel coffee (my personal favorite). Vast has yielded to fast in the order of things. I'll take what's coming to me as long as it doesn't take more than a few sound-bites. Endurance is listening to a whining child for fifteen seconds, a critical church member for five minutes, or music that grates the nerves for an entire song. As the doctor said before blasting out my sinuses, "This is going to hurt worse than anything you've ever experience. But, it won't hurt long". Hallelujah! Amen!
I'm with the Prophet Isaiah who followed his immortal "Here am I, send me" (Isaiah 6:8) response to God with the question that fits our times better than his, "How long, O Lord?" (6:11). With King David I'm agreeing, "We do not see our signs; there is no longer any prophet, and there is none among us who knows how long" (Psalm 74:9). It's the endurance deficit again, the one that made whiners of Israel during forty-years of his provision in the wilderness, the one King David asked about so many times. "My soul is greatly troubled. But you, O Lord, how long?" (Psalm 6:3) plus many others. With th rest of the human race these things knit our brows and raise a sweat when the heat is turned up a notch or two. How long, indeed.
We can debate the end times all day and never reach consensus. Most of us agree, however, that life will be more difficult for Christ followers as his plan for the ages reaches fulfillment. Jesus predicted trouble for his disciples and placed a premium on endurance as a means of final victory. The mistreatment of Christian around the world and even the Christo-phobia so evident in our own society are perhaps just a hint of what will follow. And, the crux of it is that we're just too soft to take it. If we can't deal with a little church controversy or weather the minor storms of life in the fast lane then how in the world can God's people deal with possible martyrdom.
Look in the rear-view mirror at James, again. The passage quoted in paragraph one from the Epistle is about being mature and complete on that day when the ages change. And the implication is that endurance must be completed in preparation for that day. And, that the deal right now, a prayer that we will grow to let endurance do it's complete work and not just the project by project "tour of duty" forbearance that lasts the moment, but the complete work of endurance as a way of life, every moment.
The author of Hebrews wrote many lines about endurance. Chapter 10:32-39 is a recitation of great challenges about the noted endurance of the saints.
Remember the earlier days when, after you had been enlightened, you endured a hard
struggle with sufferings. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to taunts and
afflictions, and at other times you were companions of those who were treated that
way. For you sympathized with the prisoners and accepted with joy the confiscation
of your possessions, knowing that you yourselves have a better and enduring
possession. So don’t throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you
need endurance, so that after you have done God’s will, you may receive what was
For yet in a very little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. But My righteous
one will live by faith; and if he draws back, I have no pleasure in him.
But we are not those who draw back and are destroyed, but those who have faith and
It's the expecation of enduring endurance. Here' praying we'll learn it.