It is a day that holds the highest of highs and lowest of lows for our family. it is a date that holds loss, and celebration. A date that has carried hope, and fear. Faith and uncertainty.
7 years ago it was the date we conceived Charlie. 2 years later it was the day I found out I had a miscarriage. 2 years later we were on vacation, finding out a category 5 hurricane was headed straight for our vacation spot, and we were left with only trust in our God, who we knew would carry us through with His strength.
And that the last line in all of those stories would be, God was faithful.
But one line that you won’t find in every single one of those stories is My faith was never shaken. Or I endured bravely. Some of them, yes. Some of them, however, those lines would be far from the truth. Because, sometimes my faith has been closely balanced with fear.
how to endure
And let’s talk about that. There is a phrase that I am sure you have read in my blogs before. It was a phrase that has helped me through the past year or so. And I have seen so many people post this same phrase over and over.
It is also a phrase that after today, I don’t really believe anymore. And I will tell you why.
One of the encouragements that is constant through scripture is endurance and perseverance. Endurance is something I prayed for some time ago, and kind of quickly regretted it, because kind of quickly God took that prayer seriously, and I had two options quit, or keep going.
And trust me, quitting sometimes can feel really appealing when the trials come, the fears set in, the doubts consume you, and well if it is so hard, then maybe God didn’t want me to do it anyway?
But I want to paint you a little picture of what my endurance and perseverance usually look like. It looks like me balancing fear and mustering up enough faith to just put one foot in front of the other, and striving to just make it through. My endurance looks like me thinking constantly “if I just make it… I will be okay.” It looks like me saying that phrase above that I never actually shared with you. That phrase is Do it scared.
And beautiful one, let me tell you that after today, I actually don’t believe that God wants us to do it scared. I am actually fully convinced He doesn’t. One reason is because “do is scared” is never a phrase that comes out of His mouth or the mouth of Jesus. Go ahead Google it, you won’t find it.
What you will find Him saying is “be strong and courageous, for I am with you”, “you of little faith…”, “follow me”, “be still, and know that I am God”. “He will carry you through all of your days”, “do not fear”.
So basically, do not fear, do not be scared, because He is with you. Endure. Persevere.
Okay great, endure, persevere. You may be thinking “okay, great, you are telling me to persevere, but how do you do that without being scared, and just wanting to get by?”
Well let me tell you about this little piece of gold I found in scripture. I was in the love chapter (1 Corinthians 13), and kind of digging it apart with the Greek translation. I got to verse 7, and the last 3 words of the verse are “Love always perseveres”.
Great, there is that word again, the word that makes me strive just to make it through the day.
But when looking at the Greek text and translation, the answer kind of hit my like a truck.
Remains. Abides. Does not recede, or flee. Endures and holds fast to one’s faith in Christ during misfortunes or trials.
But this is the one that stopped me in my tracks. Bears bravely and calmly through ill treatments.
When you persevere through trials, misfortunes, ill treatment, troubles, do you feel like you do it bravely and calmly? No? Not always? Yes, you are not alone. But that is God’s desire for us.
He doesn’t want us to do it scared. He wants us to do it , endure, brave and courageously. Abraham is described as having hoped against hope in a impossible situation.
And when you hope against hope, you don’t leave room for fear. You are not balancing hope against fear, doubt, uncertainty, or insecurities. You are hoping (believing with full confidence that God is able to keep His word) against hope (believing with full confidence that God is able to keep His word).
Let’s hope against hope.
He doesn’t ask us to walk with hesitancy. He commands us to walk in a faith that leaves no room for fear.
Because perfect love drives out fear. And let me tell you what Jesus says about fear. Not to do it.
I don’t know about you, but walking through life persevering bravely and calmly sounds really good, and really different than I am used to. But what I know today, is that our faith should never give fear a foothold.
And why should it? If we are one of God’s children, His chosen, His adopted, His beloved… He goes before us, and walks with us, He tells us to be strong and courageous and challenges our fears, He promises to never leave or forsake us, and that when we pass through deep water, He will be with us… oh wait… about that.
Jesus actually says nothing about passing through deep waters. That was a promise from the Old Testament. Does that promise still stand today? Yes, but no longer is it just “when you pass through deep waters, I will be with you”, no. Jesus takes it up a notch (or 100, because God does nothing ordinary). Now it is Jesus calling us to walk on the water in the middle of the storm, unharmed by the wind and the waves, doing the impossible,.
Now it is, don’t be afraid, it is I, take heart, I will be with you, AND come to me on the water, walking on the waters that you should drown in.
So what will the end of the story be?
And so how do we persevere in life like God wants us to? How do we hope against hope? The easy answer is to not leave any room for fear. By completely trusting what God says opposed to what our circumstances do. By obeying when He says “Come.” By keeping our eyes on Him, and not the wind and the waves.
By continually remembering and claiming who He is. He is the one who meets us in the middle of the storm. The One who tells us to not be afraid, Who does the impossible. He is a strong tower, and shelter for the weak. He is the One whom we can run to for refuge. He turned water into wine. He is God. He is the Prince of peace. Healer. Savior. Rescuer. Redeemer. And this is the God who loves you!
So may we all endure, bravely and calmly. Not because we can, but because we can endure all things in Him who gives us strength, and because the end of the story will always be, He is faithful.