II Peter 1:5-7 tells us to grow our faith. We need to add to our faith! In previous posts at the beginning of each month we have begun looking at this passage and the need for growing faith. Chapter 1:6 says, “...and to temperance patience...” — Spiritual Growth ought to possess patient endurance. This means to remain under. It is an athletic term - like weight lifting, remaining under the weight...or like a runner in a marathon. It means you start something and even though it may get hard or heavy, you finish it. This goes as far as bearing up under evil...continuing on, steadfast. The meaning here is more active than the translated word "patience" is often associated with in modern everyday usage.
In 1914, Ernest Shackleton and a team of explorers set out from England to do something that no one before had accomplished—cross Antarctica from one side to the other across the South Pole. Disaster struck when the team’s ship, Endurance, became entrapped in ice and eventually sank after her hull was crushed. Marooned on nearby Elephant Island, there seemed little hope for their survival.
In a desperate effort to get help, Shackleton and five others set out in a twenty-foot lifeboat across some of the most dangerous and storm-filled waters in the world. It was an eight hundred-mile journey to South Georgia Island where help could be found. For fifteen days the men battled the treacherous seas and massive storms with waves of up to one hundred feet. Using only a compass and a sextant, Frank Worsley (who had captained the Endurance) navigated their course until they safely reached land and found help. Shackleton procured another ship and returned to rescue all of his men. He became a national hero in England for his courage and persistence. (Source: Endurance, Alfred Lansing)
So, when exactly would this "endurance" be needed?
When the check runs out before the bills do...add to your self-control endurance (patience)
When you are being taken for granted by those close to you...add to your temperance endurance
When your prayer request's answer is long in coming...add to your temperance endurance
When your health takes a negative turn...add to your temperance endurance
When great personal sacrifice is required...add to your temperance endurance
When distraction or discouragement wants to overtake you...add endurance
AND when you get the job or a big raise, when you consistently have all your bills paid and extra money left over, when your car works beautifully or you have no problems with financial ability to get it repaired, when you have a full pantry, when you have happy children who love you and want to be with you, and when you feel good with no debilitaing health problems -- ADD ENDURANCE!
We need endurance in the good and the bad times! In the good times, because when comfort surrounds us for longer periods of time, we are in danger of relying on ourselves and not on our great God. Spiritual "auto-pilot" is dangerous!
However, when pleasure leaves us and pain finds us, we are in danger of casting our faith in God away. We are in danger of turning from endurance, and choosing to embrace resentment, anger, and even bitterness instead.
So, how do we add this endurance? You might say -- "I'm trying!" Think of the young man who lifts 50 pounds above his head. It might be challenging, but he can do it. What if he had to do that repeatedly over the next hour. Time after time, he was required to keep on going and lift the 50 pound weight. Eventually, he would become weary and quit. It just wasn't within his abilities to continue! But what if he had an unlimited amount of help from One who is unlimited in His ability? That would make all the difference! Although he would still be going through the motions of lifting the weight, he would discover it was the One with unlimited ability doing the lifting. All we have...all we need...is Christ! Take a step of faith, trust Him to help you, and add endurance. You can't -- but with God nothing is impossible. (Matthew 19:26)
The Greeks had a race in their Olympic games that was unique. The winner was not the runner who finished first. It was the runner who finished with his torch still lit. Run all the way with the flame of your torch still lit for Jesus. (Source: J. Stowell, Fan The Flame, Moody, 1986, p. 32.) Run, child of God…run to Christ with patient endurance and your life light lit a flame for Him!