Today, the focus of my message will be endurance. Most importantly what endurance is, the two basic types of endurance, and how they relate to spiritual endurance. The reason why this is so important to communicate with everyone today is that without understanding what endurance really is, Christians can tend to get comfortable where they are at in their spiritual development. By the time I finish this message, you will understand that having endurance is the key factor to living a fruitful Christian life. Now, let me begin.
Scientifically, endurance is defined as the ability of an organism to exert itself and remain active for a long period of time, as well as its ability to withstand, resist, recover from, and have immunity to trauma, wounds, or fatigue. When a person can withstand a higher amount of effort than their original capabilities their endurance is increasing which to many people indicates that their training progress is successful. This increase is normally divided into two different types of endurance, general and specific. General endurance is characterized as the ability of your entire body to tolerate endurance exercises and diminish fatigue. The better your general endurance, the better you are at activities or sports that require you to exert yourself for a longer period of time. For example, an Olympic runner is required to have general endurance to be able to run the 1500 meter race. Their overall endurance must be good to be able to compete against others successfully. A person who never exercises and jumps on the track will not be able to run competitively with the Olympic runners. This is because they will lack the endurance required to compete to begin with.
Now, specific endurance is the ability to stand against fatigue in task-specific conditions. The better you train for a specific activity or sport, the better you can perform at it. Specific endurance is also characterized as a combination of various types of endurance to maximize your ability to succeeded in your discipline or task. For example, take the Olympic runner I just spoke about. What do you think got him or her to the fitness level required to perform at that level? It took a very specific training schedule to get them where they are at. Something like running long distance sprints to build the stamina required for their discipline. They could lift weights at the gym to target the specific muscle groups in their lower body to strengthen their legs to be able to perform at a higher level then what they could originally do. Regardless of what they do, it takes planning and hard work to get them to where they need to be. Their progress may be a painful one but they will reap their rewards by getting stronger and performing better at their trade.
Now you may be asking yourself, how does endurance relate to your spiritual growth? The answer is simple and the apostle Paul gives us this answer in the book of Romans. It is written, “And not only this, but [with joy] let us exult in our sufferings and rejoice in our hardships, knowing that hardship (distress, pressure, trouble) produces patient endurance; 4 and endurance, proven character (spiritual maturity); and proven character, hope and confident assurance [of eternal salvation], “(Romans 5:3-4 AMP).
In the fifth chapter of Romans, Paul is speaking to the church about having joy, peace, and hope in Jesus Christ. This joy, peace, and hope comes from our faith in Him, and Him alone. It allows us to endure any difficult circumstances that we may be facing. Most importantly, understanding that our happiness comes from a state of grace. However, this “grace” is not something that we are born into, but are led to by the power of the Holy Spirit. Grace is the foundation on which every Christian must stand firm on and its very posture compels us to persevere in the face of any adversary because we have the power of God in us and working for us. This allows believers to rejoice in our tribulations.
When we face tribulations as Christians, we can develop a supernatural sense of patience, not because of the trail or persecution that we are facing in itself, but because of the powerful grace of God working in and with the tribulation to help us develop endurance. Right here and right now, Paul is reminding us to react to our negative circumstances with joy and peace because it is a part of our training to win our final race. Please remember that only a person who has persevered can develop this type of steadfastness that Paul speaks of in the Scripture I shared with you all today. However, our spiritual life similar to the life of an athlete takes hard work and serious dedication. Now how can we do this as Christians? Let me explain.
I began this message by first explaining what endurance is and the two main types of endurance. This was to explain how to develop our spiritual endurance. As Christians, our end goal is to live a holy life. This holy life is a life long process of improving ourselves daily and it is called sanctification. Now this change is a process and does not happen overnight. This long process is similar to wanting to develop general endurance. To develop our spiritual general endurance we must have a goal establish and the mental fortitude to do everything in our power to reach that goal. You make sure that every opportunity that arises is used to better achieve your goal or in better words, to win your 1500 meter race. However, general endurance cannot be developed unless very specific targets are reached. These targets help up develop our spiritual specific endurance.
Now how can we do this exactly? As Christians, it has been revealed to us in God’s Word that we must do very specific things to help us grow closer to Him. In this process, we become less like ourselves and more like Jesus. He is so good to us that He revealed to us how to train ourselves in godliness! I am talking about our spiritual disciplines. Some of these disciplines are prayer, fasting, solitude, Bible intake, Bible memorization, studying, stewardship, and the list can go on and on. It is the spiritual equivalent of working out specific muscle groups in the gym to get stronger. The point is that we have very specific things that we need to work on and develop endurance in so that we can prepare ourselves and grow. Now, why is this important? Let’s say that you are facing a hardship. When you rely on God to not only get you through it but teach you in that season to have peace and joy in Him, then you have developed endurance for that type of situation. God will then have given you the ability to withstand, resist, recover from, and have immunity to that specific trauma because you placed your hope in Him and not your problem.
You need to understand that when we are going through any hardship, that hardship is allowing us to train for spiritual endurance. Do we lay down and give up or do we rise to the challenge and train ourselves to become overcomers? We are the Olympic athlete in our story, and we need to take every opportunity to train ourselves so that no matter what this world throws at us or any spiritual attacks that satan may bring towards us. We must be prepared to endure it gracefully. Not only endure it gracefully but to find joy and peace in the process. However, it takes spiritual endurance and training to be able to do this successfully.
Now, are you rising to the challenge and training yourself or are you willing to fall short in your race? This is a question that we all must ask ourselves and honestly reflect on if we want to win our race and get to where God wants us to be. So I challenge everyone reading this message today to start making a plan to develop your spiritual endurance. Work on developing your spiritual discipline and focus on Jesus instead of this world. It can be only on this type of endurance that you can be steadfast in your hope in Jesus and be prepared for your next challenge! That is how we can live a fruitful life in Him and be prepared for the next challenge. Amen.