In the past, I have joked about not wanting to pray for patience or endurance because who knew what kind of trial that would be put in my path to grow patience and endurance. I was sure that asking for those things would just send a torrent of trials in order to develop those characteristics in my life. But that isn't really the way it works, is it? The reality is that whether or not we pray for those things, trials will come. This is a world that is broken and hurting which means that hurting people will continue to hurt people and unexpected accidents happen. Trials come whether or not we pray for endurance, and I now believe that praying for endurance just helps us all the more when the trials come. Please read Colossians 1:11-14.
Colossians 1:11-12 has a parallel with James 1:2-4 which says (NLT), "Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested it gives your endurance a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing." This gives a perspective that is so opposite of how I naturally feel when I am going through something difficult. But as we read this carefully, we see that we can have joy in the hope of what God is working in us through the difficulty. Please don't think I am minimizing your difficulty one bit. Some difficulties are so massive that difficulty isn't even a word that can describe the situation. The pain can feel so dark and deep that it is beyond even thinking about ever feeling joy again. But you can pray for the strength to endure through the pain and know that God is with you. God will give you the endurance you need for that moment.
For those of you who are not finding yourself in the middle of a trial, pray for endurance anyway. We can pray for the patience and endurance we need just for the day to day stuff that comes our way - this allows us to respond in a loving way to the people around us. We can pray for the patience and endurance we will need in the future. We can also pray strength, endurance and patience over those we know who are going through a difficult time. I can testify that when I have gone through some very difficult times, I later found out how I was being lifted up in prayer by my friends. I know their prayers for me is what helped me endure through those times. Paul and Timothy model this for us in this letter. I also want to point out that Paul was praying patience and endurance over the church as he was sitting in house arrest and having to endure his own difficulties. When he prays for patience, endurance, joy and thankfulness, he is praying this with a complete understanding of what this means - he was a man who understood suffering. Remember, his joy was in the hope of a better future - both in what God was working in him and the future of a life with Christ for eternity.
Are you going through a difficult time? Are you in pain? Have you prayed for the endurance you need for today?
This post is linked with Brag On God Friday.