The Miraculous Work of Endurance

The other day, I marveled at how the Lord works in our character based on endurance through trials. I recognized this as I reflected on some miracles I’ve noticed in my life lately. These are not the kind of miracles you would expect. In other words, I’m not mentioning miracles of physical healing or angels hiding someone in plain site for protection. Miracles like this can exist and certainly do exist. There are thousands of stories beyond the Biblical references and true testimonies that occur today. The kind of miracles I’m writing about are those we almost take for granted because they aren’t automatic, but the kind that build and develop. These kinds of miracles are changes of character, healing from the inside out, and healing within the spirit, which reflects eventually even in outward appearance. (We can be sick physically but have an outward beauty that comes from an inner healing of spirit.)

The particular miracles I’m reflecting on have to do with the changes I’ve noticed lately, which could only happen with supernatural work in me. What I’m seeing is that current circumstances are happening that in the past would have caused me to overreact and even soak in misery or worry. The same types of situations now bring out my resolve to do what is right. For instance, instead of allowing the enemy to conjure up the sinful nature of outrage or even resentment over a hurt someone caused, it no longer sticks. Other situations that would have tempted me to worry and fret no longer do so. I’m not perfected in this, but I do notice that more often, I’m able to counteract what the enemy is trying to stir up by immediately applying truth from God’s word and love from Christ to it. I choose immediately to pray out loud, making statements of forgiveness for the person involved and asking for restoration for them. It’s as if, in the spirit world, what used to come upon me is no longer allowed to do so, and I can turn around and, with strength, fight it off immediately. More and more, I see God do things in me automatically, especially in specific types of situations. It truly is a miracle!

This came from trial after trial with the Lord leading, testing, and trying me. This came from practicing endurance, training the spirit man’s muscles. In all practical sense, I learned to set my mind to do what is right with God’s help. It took me years to get to this place. I could only do this because of Christ Jesus’s Holy Spirit living in me through faith in him. And it is through this great gift of God, so undeserved by any of us, that I am able. He works in me and with me to soak his scriptures deep within my mind, reminding me to make the better choice. To put it simply, to truly change our way of thinking, we must dwell on good thoughts and put belief in action to that truth!

Anyone who diligently leans into the Lord and lets him do the work will be trained by the Spirit through life’s circumstances. I repeat myself often on this subject because it is the passion the Lord has placed in me. It is the hard knocks of life that He chooses to use that will bring us into the character we were meant to be. Let’s look at the following scripture.

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3-5 ESV)  

Notice the progression. What is needed for character change? Suffering, first off! It’s the gift of suffering that produces endurance and character. A surrendered Christ follower will learn to appreciate the use of all things in life to train us. Performing exercise may be rough at first. A person who is weak in the body will need to take small steps to gradually train the muscles to endure greater resistance. The older I get, the more I realize the need for healthy exercise to maintain balance and keep my lymph system moving for quality of life. Because of my chronic illness, I must take any step possible to hopefully have less pain or even endure the pain I have. (I hope I’m making sense here!) I use stretchy bands to work my muscles as I do some video exercises or even for some of the physical therapy work I require. I start with a mild stretch band. The stronger my muscles get, the more I can do the tighter bands. If I haven’t been working out for a while, I notice there is more pain to begin with. It takes more effort to get those bands stretched, to walk longer, or to go up and down steps. But the more I keep up with training, the more I can conquer and the more miles I can walk…etc. (Currently, I’m only taking a 15-30 min walk daily if the weather cooperates! But I’m hoping you get my point.)

In the same way, our inner selves also need training. We must accept these hardships as gifts that keep on giving. If we want to remain steadfast, to stand firm rather than flee or self-preserve, looking for comfort when the going gets rough, we must let those hardships be opportunities for building up our character.

An example is when you are attempting to quit a bad habit. I have laid off sugar for the last year and a half. At first, it was daunting. My body craved the sugary sweets. I longed to stuff my mouth with chocolate when feeling any stress or emotional disappointment. My nature wants to turn to something other than God to comfort me in stressful situations or when I feel out of control with my life. But God wants me to center my mind and heart on trusting him above all things. He’s working on me! To overcome this sugar addiction, however, I had to first persevere through the difficult days. It seems as though as soon as I try to let go of something, I want it more! This is a kind of discomfort I had to work through. The temptations are stronger initially because the enemy presses in with the idea that God is taking something good away from me. He attempts to get me to ignore all the gifts already surrounding me. I have an abundant life for the taking because of the gift of Jesus Christ, but I can’t see it if I’m focused on something other than all he has for me. The temptations are new opportunities, the resistant bands or weights that help train me if appropriately used. The more I say no to the bad habit, the more I resist, and the stronger I get, the more I repeatedly resist. These opportunities (whether they be temptations or sufferings in life) are the weights, the stretchy bands, the long runs, etc., that build up endurance and produce the beautiful person within. While culture focuses on building an attractive outward appearance with toned bodies, the Lord focuses on building a beautiful inward heart. And it’s that inward heart that shines out the light, revealing God’s glory.

What are the inner weights you have been lifting lately? What opportunities are in your path to build endurance so that lasting character will develop? Are you willing to let God use all things to clean you from the inside out so that you may shine? Please share any thoughts or personal examples and testimonies with me! I would love to hear, rejoice in God’s goodness in your life and learn!

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