Prizing Perseverance

Read Hebrews 12:1-2, James 1:12, James 5:7-11, and Luke 21:19.

As of January, I have been attempting to make the gym my friend. For the first time ever, I began lifting weights (lol never would have thought this would be happening in a thousand years), intentional cardio training (meaning I was no longer counting the times I went up a flight of stairs going to class as a cardio exercise), and dieting. Since trying to take up this hobby, I do believe I never fully understood the metaphor of our walk with Christ being like that of running a race or training.

Through my experiences thus far I have learned a few new things about what is going on inside my body during my workouts. The changes in my muscles, their growth and development, are caused by my muscles undergoing forces of resistance. As I make my muscles experience greater forces of resistance (heavier weight or heightened intensity), that is when the tissues inside my muscles begin tearing apart. This tearing is what leads to soreness, but it also leads to the healing process. During the healing process, cells begin to rush to the area of damage, they replicate themselves, quickly producing new cells, and they bind themselves to the torn muscle fibers. New muscle protein strands are created, and the strength and visible size of the muscle increase so that the body can withstand similar activity in the future. I feel like I should also clarify that in order to ever witness any visible changes in muscle composition of the body, it often takes consistency in weeks of training. It has taken many professional athletes spans of years of training to reach their current physiques.

Doesn’t the Father guide us through our own life’s resistances in the same way?

When I began this fitness journey, I wanted it to end as soon as I walked in the gym, and if it had not been for my partner it probs would have ended after the second workout. My partner is MUCH more seasoned in this field than I am (frankly this can be very frustrating on those days when I am feeling particularly haughty), however, because of their experience they are able to push me into zones I never thought I would be able to go. They spur me into squatting a weight I have never done before, and when I am quick to throw in the towel and wrap up my workout because I honestly do not know if my body can take anymore, they recognize my potential and speak to me: “Nah, you’ve got one more rep in ya, probably two.” Their encouragement has contributed greatly to my perseverance in this journey, and three months later, I am at the stage: “I notice the changes in my body! Just nobody else can see them yet!” (promise, promise it’s not in my head).

Note that I said it has been three months with only slight visible change. It has not been an overnight or two-week journey of instant change. It has been three months of daily making healthier choices in what I eat, committing to going to the gym two to three times a week, and pushing myself harder during my workouts.

Challenging myself at the gym has been my physical resistance lately, but this has not been the only resistance I have been fighting to push myself through. Being human, I have a feeling you are as familiar with your own form of resistance (pain, trial, affliction, suffering, anguish, sin) as I am. You have either had your walk through the valley, or are currently making camp for another night’s stay in the valley. You have probably had that moment, or moments, when you cry out to the Father saying, “Lord… Where are you in this? Where can I see Your goodness here?” Your soul is wearied with doubt and frustration, embittered at this moment you have found yourself in. Often, throwing in the towel sounds so much simpler… easier.

Hebrews 12:1-2 (AMP)

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness], stripping off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us, 2 [looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work].

I have typically seen the common topics presented surrounding these passages being that of what training in our Christian walk looks like or running the race for Christ, but for my little spill, I would like to focus more on the value these scriptures have given to endurance. In Greek, the term used in these verses for endurance is hypomeneo, hypo- translating to “under”, and -meneo translating to “to abide”- “to abide under”.

“Let us run with endurance…”

Let us run abiding under…

We all know it- endurance, perseverance- is hard. Who really enjoys abiding under those times in which you feel like you can barely make it through? Who likes sitting in that often torturous discomfort our resistance brings? As believers, we are called to persevere and endure, and thankfully the God we worship identifies with us in our persevering and made himself the example by which we are to follow.

“Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross…”

He endured for the future He knew was to come, which was long ago promised by the Father. He withstood the cross knowing that through it was to come the closest, intimate union man had yet to experience with Himself.

What is it that you’re enduring? What promises is God pleading you to hold onto as you do?

James 5:7,11

So wait patiently, brothers and sisters, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits [expectantly] for the precious harvest from the land, being patient about it, until it receives the early and late rains… See, we count as blessed those who have endured…”

See, we count as blessed you, Ashley, who has endured…

See, we count as blessed you, (insert yourself here), who has endured…

You are considered blessed just by your perseverance, Friend.

What is it that you are enduring? What are the promises that God is pleading you to hold onto as you do?

 

Ashley Cooper


ashley-cooper

Ashley Cooper is a junior at Henderson State University studying elementary education. She has a passion for people and humorously suffers from chronic forgetfulness. She loves kids and seeking the heart of God!

 

 


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