In The School of Learning to Endure

endurance-training-muscle with captionThroughout the Scriptures, those who follow Messiah are called to endure.

Endurance is a subject that all of us need to be encouraged in, a character quality we must be trained in. I have addressed the topic of endurance before, because it is a characteristic that is so needed, yet often neglected.

If we are strong in our belief in Yahuwah Elohim [the LORD God], and firm in our commitment to our Saviour, Yahushua Messiah [Jesus Christ], then there will be times that, “for conscience toward God,” we will need to endure through suffering wrongfully. Our conscience demands it of us, because our Saviour’s example compels us to follow Him in every way, following in His steps, including suffering wrongfully (1Peter 2:19-21).

Doing what is good and right in God’s sight, and then to eventually suffer for it, is indeed a sad and grievous outcome of our good efforts. But this is part of the calling of those who follow Yahushua Messiah:

If, when you do well, and suffer for it, and you take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were you called: because Messiah also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps. (1Peter 2:20b-21)

The Scriptures remind us that our calling, what we are destined for, is to follow Messiah’s example. This means we will most likely endure false accusations, or unjust suffering. Not that we would go out and look for suffering and grief. But if we desire to follow in our Saviour’s steps, then it will inevitably happen — we will enter “The School of Learning to Endure.”

As we follow our Saviour’s example, we will begin to learn to endure suffering and grief for the sake of our love and loyalty to Him.

And when we look at Yahushua’s example, much of His example includes maintaining a humble, quiet, and meek endurance, even in the midst of many troubles and opposition.

Let me say, before I continue much further, there certainly are times when, by Father’s leading, He will guide us to speak out against injustices and cruelties. There is a time for every thing, and there are times when we are not to remain silent! For conscience toward God, we must do and say the right thing in God’s sight, regardless of the outcome.

But this exhortation in “The School of Learning to Endure” is an encouragement to commit ourselves to be faithfully loyal to Yahuwah, patiently and quietly, enduring wrongful suffering and afflictions, for His sake.

The apostle Peter tells us that if someone, “for conscience toward God,” suffers wrongfully, and endures affliction, then that is a gracious and acceptable action, and worthy of our thanksgiving (1Peter 2:19). During any wrongful suffering, we may well question our ability to be thankful and endure graciously! But many have done just that — they endured graciously, and maintained a meek and quiet spirit.

Meekness: A Necessary Characteristic

Meekness is a necessary characteristic that enables endurance through grievous sufferings and trials. Unfortunately, the word meekness has evolved into a somewhat negative meaning, implying weakness, cowardice, and lack of courage. But that is far from true!

The Scriptures reveal to us what meekness really is.

Moses_Breaks_the_TablesMoses was said to be “very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3)!

There could not be an ounce of weakness or lack of courage, in a man that led the children of Israel out of Egypt, and then through the wilderness for forty years!

Moses showed great courage, while maintaining quietness and confidence in the One who was his authority, and his strength.

What Moses had was meekness — a character quality that encompasses great strength, humility, perseverance, and yieldedness!

Along with his love for Yahuwah, and his trust in Father’s great love for His people, it was Moses’ meekness of character that enabled him, over and over, to stand in the breach for the children of Israel.

It was his yieldedness to the One who went before them, that enabled Moses to lead a multitude of very difficult, cantankerous people through the wilderness.

I believe also that our Saviour’s meekness of character was one of the main qualities that enabled Him to endure the injustice of His execution. Throughout His ministry, Yahushua was enabled to allow NO corrupt communication to proceed out of His mouth, because of His meekness of character.

Whenever He was reviled, whenever He suffered, He did not retaliate, He threatened not.

It is our meekness of character that strengthens us and enables us to withstand injustice and injuries, for the sake of our Saviour.

It is meekness that Father is looking for in His children. It is the meek that He will beautify with salvation. It is the meek that He will teach His ways! It is in quietness and confidence [trusting in Him] that we find strength! And it is a meek and quiet spirit that is of very great value in the sight of God! (Psalms 149:4; Psalms 25:9; Isaiah 30:15b; 1Peter 3:4).

Endurance: Never Easy

Enduring under injustices and afflictions is never easy or natural for any of us to do. But, many have done it! History is full of stories of people who have endured overwhelming afflictions, and eventually triumphed. Many saints [those of whom the world is not worthy] were victorious by enduring great trials of persecutions and tribulations. They maintained their patience and faithfulness, and thus they obtained “a good report through faith” (Hebrews 11:38-39).

I think of the many Holocaust and WWII survivors, and what they endured during the war. Their endurance through the injustices and cruelty were torturous and excruciating. Missionaries are another example of ones who have endured through great trials and sufferings.

How did they do it? Of the stories I have read about survivors, they endured and ultimately survived, mostly by simply remaining steadfast and quiet – a characteristic of meekness.

Many of these survivors were very clever, and found ways to escape notice from their enemies. But in the midst of their humiliation and hellish sufferings, they maintained a steadfast and silent dignity. It is a credit to them that they survived the horrors, and we need to learn from their stories. [Below is a small list of stories about survivors.]

A Great Advantage

Believers in Yahushua Messiah have the great advantage of Father’s enabling grace available to them at all times. Believers who have great integrity, and take extreme care to remain loyal to Father, are often the object of great sufferings. Yet they have determined to look beyond the temporal, and have set their heart and mind on the things above. They call on Father’s help, moment-by-moment, to strengthen and rescue them, even in small, seemingly insignificant matters.

By Father’s great grace, such devoted believers are enabled to withstand the grief and humiliation of wrongful sufferings — not because they find any enjoyment in it [far from it!] — but because they refuse to distrust the heavenly Father’s love, wisdom, and greatness, even in the midst of their pain.

They trust in Father’s oversight of life’s circumstances. Regardless of how painful and unreasonable the circumstances may be, they trust that Father’s plans and purposes are much greater than any human level of understanding!

When we first became born of His Spirit, Yahuwah adopted us, and brought us into His family, into His kingdom, to live under His rulership. But if we desire to continue within His plans and purposes for us, then we will need to face the reality of a life of denying self, and learn to endure hardships and afflictions, as a good soldier (2Timothy 2:3).

Learning to endure, while drawing on Father’s grace, comes to us — slowly, it seems — as we grow and mature in our commitment to Father.

Endurance: Its Cultivation

1 plantseedlingAcquiring endurance will not happen overnight. Endurance and meekness are qualities that require the process of cultivation. Just as it is in the natural, so it is in the spiritual. We may put seeds into the ground and expect good fruit, but this requires time and cultivation.

Learning endurance means time, and going through many trials and errors.

In my own life, my many weaknesses and failures often tend to discourage me. I am finding that the “School of Learning to Endure” is not for the faint-hearted. Thankfully, Father is not discouraged or disgusted with my weaknesses and failures. Father knew from the beginning what kind of project He was getting into when He called me to be His child. His amazing love for me remains faithful and unchanged!

But still, this is no excuse for me to sit back and give up. Father expects to eventually see the fruit of endurance in my life. My many weaknesses and failures simply become the “fertilizer” that will finally bring about the fruit of endurance He expects to see.

Our failures, as well as our sufferings, are never an excuse for us to allow ourselves to deny our Saviour. Rather, such things are for us to learn greater patience and trust in Yahuwah’s love and wisdom, trusting that He knows about the tiniest details of our life.

When circumstances occur that are grievous and afflicting, upsetting our plans and concerns [no matter how small the event may be], then it is our strength of character that will enable us to seek Father’s grace and mercy. It is the character quality of meekness that will enable us to endure, to bear injustices and the troubles and trials we must all experience for His sake.

It is meekness that will help us to be more forgiving. Our meekness can quiet us, and can help us to reconcile ourselves to the love and design of The Heavenly Potter — accepting ourselves, and our situation, as we truly are: the clay in His hands.

Adoniram Judson, a missionary to Burma, endured excruciating sufferings. And yet, he continued to trust Yahuwah’s infinite wisdom in permitting such suffering:

“If I had not felt certain that every additional trial was ordered by God’s infinite love and mercy, I could not have survived my accumulated sufferings.” — Adoniram Judson

A Desire to Learn

Our own conscience is a faithful witness of Yahuwah’s Spirit within us. It is our conscience that gives us a desire to learn Father’s ways, being willing to be taught. His Holy Spirit within us urges us continually to follow the Saviour’s example, doing what He did:

Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth: Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judges righteously. (1Peter 2:22-23)

The many great injustices that Messiah endured for our sake, are for our example. They show us how we too [with Father’s help!], can patiently and quietly maintain a spirit of meekness, for the sake of those we serve.

If we are faced with suffering wrongfully, or if we encounter slander, reviling, or even a confrontation with a loved one, because of our loyalty to Yahuwah, then as Messiah’s disciples, we determine to keep our quietness, possess our souls through patiently persevering, not murmuring or retaliating (Luke 21:19; Romans 5:3).

We can do as King David did: proclaim that Yahuwah is set always before us, that He is at our ‘right hand’ because we keep His guidance and instruction always near us, in our thoughts, our heart, our focus. Proclaiming Father’s Word builds our confidence and hope, helping us to not waiver (Psalms 16:8; 73:23; 109:31; 121:5).

We must also do what Moses did so often: And Yahuwah [the LORD] spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend (Exodus 33:11a). Moses knew he needed help from above, so he went to the Father in prayer, frequently! Prayer is our life-line to the heavenly Father too! (See Numbers 11:2; 14:20; Exodus 32:11, 30; Deuteronomy 9:18-20,26-29; Psalms 106:23; Isaiah 30:15).

The Righteous Judgment of God

That phrase in 1Peter 2, Yahushua “committed Himself to Him that judges righteously” is like an anchor for our soul. It is a KEY to maintaining our hope and our loyalty to Yahuwah, the Mighty One of Israel.

We commit the keeping of our souls unto our loving Father, and purpose to be of a gentle and quiet spirit in our sufferings. We resolve to trust that Father is holding us tightly throughout the suffering and humiliation; trusting Him to ultimately do as He has said:

  • “He [Yahuwah] comes to judge the earth: He shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with His truth” (Psalms 96:13)
  • “In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33)
  • Let Israel hope in Yahuwah [the LORD]: for with Yahuwah there is mercy, and with Him is plenteous redemption” (Psalms 130:7)

Yahushua has overcome the world! He lives within us by His Holy Spirit. Therefore, if we will cry out to Him for help in our time of need, by His grace, we can maintain our faith and hope, and endure the affliction. By His grace, we can continue following His example, pressing forward for the prize of the high calling of Yahuwah Elohim in Messiah Yahushua!

Of course as it often happens — I know more than I do! Knowing the right thing to do, and doing the right thing requires the mercy and grace of the Holy Spirit’s mighty power working within me: “Not by might, nor by power, but by Your Spirit!” (Zechariah 4:6) Every victory that I have seen in my own life is solely due to Father’s intervention on my behalf.

The “School of Learning to Endure” is a school run by the Holy Spirit. But in order to become acquainted with the Holy Spirit’s many dealings with us, we must maintain a teachable heart. We need to be sensitive to His guidance and cherish the smallest impressions He gives us. Our growing in grace, and our learning His lessons in endurance, begin with our commitment [and our many re-commitments!] to Him, to keep His ways.

But in order to keep His ways, we must know Him and His ways. We cannot depend on our feelings to know God. We know God by knowing His Word! Thus we must make a personal commitment to study Father’s Word for ourselves, and to know Father’s Word. Only in this way can we sincerely keep and obey His Word, and His ways, with all our strength.

Be Prepared For Trials

When trials and sufferings come, if we can remember [by Father’s mercy], that He loves us immensely, and cry out for His help to remain loyal to Him, then He will be faithful to hold us close to Him. He will give us the necessary grace we need to maintain our patience and to endure — endure the injustice or injury. If we are the subject of ridicule or unjust sufferings, then meekness of character and endurance go hand-in-hand, teaching us to continue our fight of faith, and to not give up our commitment to follow Yahushua’s example!

One great benefit, in the midst of trials, is to be praying for help, and especially praying in the Holy Spirit, which is a significant tool for helping us to build up our faith, keeping us confident of Father’s love (Jude 1:20-21; 1Corinthians 14:4a). We are best prepared when we pray often in the Holy Spirit, even before trials begin.

The apostle Peter tells us: “Do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you” (1Peter 4:12-19). Peter is warning us, and encouraging us, to be prepared for trials, and even for suffering wrongfully.

Without a doubt wrongful suffering is a huge mystery! Our human understanding of this mystery is beyond our finite brains. There must come a moment however, when we surrender our demand to understand, and simply trust Yahuwah Elohim [the LORD God], and the promises of His love for us in His Word (see Romans 8:28, 35-39; Exo 20:6; Deut 8:2-3; 1Cor 2:9; 1Pet 1:7-8; 5:10).

With our heart focused, with our affections set above, and with our sincere loyalty to Father, then if we are reproached for the name of Messiah, take heart, Thirsty Souls! For the spirit of glory and of God rests upon us! (1Peter 4:14).

Peter concludes his exhortation with:

Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God, commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator. (1Peter 4:19)

There it is again, what I described above as an anchor for the soul.

We commit the keeping of our souls to Him, Yahuwah Elohim, the One who is true and loving — and the One who will ulimately judge righteously on that fateful day when all things will come into the light of His truth! He is our hope of redemption, our hope of salvation, and our hope of glory. He will be our guide even unto death (Psalms 48:14). 

Happy is he that has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in Yahuwah Elohim [the LORD his God]: which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is: which keeps truth for ever: which executes judgment for the oppressed…. (Psalms 146:5-7a)

May we remember: when we do well, and suffer for it, if we can take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.

And that Dear Reader, is a lesson in the School of Learning to Endure!

The following is a very small list of the many stories available about survivors. You may find these stories at your local library.

  1. Adoniram Judson: Following God’s Plan – by Fern N. Stocker
  2. The Life and Diary of the Rev. David Brainerd – by Jonathan Edwards
  3. A Lucky Child – A Memoir of Surviving Auschwitz as A Young Boy – by Thomas Buergenthal
  4. Small Miracles of the Holocaust – Extraordinary Coincidences of Faith, Hope, and Survival – by Yitta Halberstam Mandelbaum
  5. The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler – DVD – sneaking children out
  6. Out of the Depths – An Unforgettable WWII Story of Survival, Courage, and the Sinking of the USS Indianapolis – by Edgar Harrell
  7. Evidence Not Seen – A Woman’s Miraculous Faith in A Japanese Prison Camp During WWII – by Darlene Deibler Rose
  8. Fear No Evil – The Classic Memoir of One Man’s Triumph over a Police State – by Natan Sharansky

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"No liberty is true and no joy is genuine unless it is founded in the fear of Yahuwah [the LORD] and a good conscience.”
— Thomas, à Kempis

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A kiss is not 'just a kiss.' When a kiss happens, something very mysterious and significant happens. In the same way, when we give our heart to Yahushua Messiah, we enter into a mysterious and significant covenant relationship with Him.

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