In the first three chapters of Revelation, Christ gives a commendation four times for something that is seldom celebrated in our definitions of success: patient endurance. Our culture honors productivity, not patience. Books are written and podcasts abound about doing. . . not enduring. Again, God's Kingdom values are drastically "upside down" from our cultural expectations.
I wonder, can endurance and patience be separated? Can't endurance be characterized by gritting our teeth and waiting? Does "patient" describe the type of endurance that is pleasing to our Lord? Is it the "how" we are to endure? Is that why Jesus combines these two concepts? I wonder.
Too often we describe someone who merely waits and doesn't act as being weak or ineffectual. But, it seems that "patient endurance" takes strength, commitment and faith. Makoto Fujimura, a friend and mentor, once taught that sometimes we find ourselves in a "long and" of Matthew 6:33--"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." God's promise is true and trustworthy, but the timing is often different than we expect. And yet, we are told to keep "seeking his kingdom and his righteousness" even when the provisions or answers cannot be seen. This form of waiting takes patient endurance.
My husband and I find ourselves in yet another "long and" transition. While God is clearly opening doors of ministry for both of us, the needed finances and partners in ministry are lacking. How do we exhibit "patient endurance"? Can it be presumption to expect God to provide as we request? We dare not seek to manipulate God. So, we wait. But, too often it is accompanied with worries and fears--the opposite of faithful waiting. Definitely not "patient endurance".
This is my prayer: "Lord, I desire to develop patient endurance. I am aware that this is tantamount to asking for trials to develop this skill and/or characteristic in me. But, even in this current situation of a severe lack of financial support which would free us to engage in our calling to ministry, I desire to wait. . .endure. . . with patience. Amen."
Photo is of a painting by Charlotte Zweber Chavis in her series on the "Transforming Power of God", using the imagery of the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly in the cocoon.