Enduring Hardship

Bringing light into a dark world invites three predictable responses. First, some will run from the light because their deeds are evil. Jesus said, “Everyone who does evil hates the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed” (Jn. 3:20). Those who live in sin feel convicted around Christians, and they stay away from churches that preach the truth. Second, some will embrace the light as a liberating friend and gladly come to Jesus. Third, others will try to discredit the light source. This is what they tried to do to Jesus, and those who let their light shine today will receive similar insults and persecution. “Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated” (Heb. 10:32,33).

With such opposition, how do we “run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Heb. 12:1)? First, “Consider him [Jesus] who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (vs. 3). Second, consider the heroes of faith mentioned in chapter eleven. They are the great cloud of witnesses cheering us on to victory. If they could endure the ill treatment of others without the life of Christ, imagine what we could endure with the life of Christ within us. The will of God will never lead you where the grace of God cannot sustain you.

Third, we are to “Endure hardship as discipline” (vs. 7). The writer of Hebrews quoted Prov. 3:11,12 as a word of encouragement (vss. 5,6). Being disciplined by God proves that we are children of God, “Because the Lord disciplines those He loves” (vs. 6). If we as imperfect parents know the need to discipline our children, how much more can we expect the discipline of God. We can endure hardship as discipline if we know there is a purpose behind it. “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (vs. 11).

Endurance is the key to success, which is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. We will never fulfill our purpose in life if we continue to choose the path of least resistance or quit before we finish the race. Too many Christians encounter a little opposition and drop out saying, “It must not be God’s will!” On the contrary, it is God’s will that you persevere. “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised” (Heb. 10:36).

Dr. Neil

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