We‘ve entered both the hopeful season of spring and a less hopeful third wave of the pandemic. Worshiping from our homes again today feels sadly familiar. We may wonder why this is all happening or how we will make it through. Discouragement takes over. We brew yet another cup of coffee and settle onto the couch.
The Christian life is all about endurance: Persevering, learning, and growing.
One thing we know about growth is that it won’t happen on its own. For plants to thrive they require sunlight, warmth, water and nutrients. There must be time and effort to provide this nourishment.
This doesn’t happen overnight, it’s a journey we live day in and day out, one step at a time toward surrender and obedience. Just as the meat you put inside a smoker takes time to cook and flavor through the hickory haze, the circumstances around us shape our growth, as the heat and smoke transform us.
The apostle Paul prays for the Colossian church, “that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him” (Col 1:9-10). He longed for them to remain grounded in truth, growing in maturity as false teaching began to penetrate and entice those around them.
A firm foundation on truth, he goes on to teach, is found in the supremacy of Christ, who is,
“the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross” (Col 1:15-20).
When we reflect on the challenges of our circumstances, the overwhelming amount of positive and negative information that bombard us, Paul reminds us of the wonder of Jesus; his sustaining power in our every moment, his authority over all creation, and the restoration provided in his sacrifice.
He has rescued those who love and follow him from a life of sin and judgement, placing us into his kingdom of light. Our purpose now is not the pursuit of own desires, but to live for him in love and obedience.
Paul continues to encourage us, “therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving” (Col 2:7). We persevere through our struggles in light of what Jesus has done for us, and what he continues to do in the world, by “abounding in thanksgiving.” Thankful hearts may be hard to cultivate during these times, but as we keep growing and walking with the Lord, we pray for eyes to see the good around us, His hand in every new blossom, every act of kindness, and every distinguishing piece of beauty.
“For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised” (Heb 10:36). This promise we often hold as our eternal destiny in heaven. Yet, it’s also for the here and now. To enjoy a full, abundant life that bears fruit for the kingdom, for the glory of God and the good of others. In the steadfast faith we humbly endure, by his sustaining grace, that we may be encouraged in the meaning and purpose of our today, not only our tomorrow.