Five words I want my children to live — endurance

Published 12:22 pm Sunday, March 1, 2020

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By Nathan Decker

A lie has speed, but the truth has endurance.”

– Edgar J. Mohn

Each generation passes gives the next generation gifts, problems and habits. As a father of two, I want to pass down more than my collection of hymnals or my baldness. I hope to share what I have learned from my mistakes with my children, and my prayer is they will make new ones.

When my oldest began third grade, I started assigning him words to look up either in a dictionary or on Google. I wanted him to memorize the word and explain it to me in his own words. The second word I assigned was ‘endurance.’

To endure is to carry a burden longer and farther than you would on a normal day. In my son’s words, to endure was to survive when no one expected you would. Where persistence is the drive to keep going after a goal even though it is hard, endurance is the grit to thrive when life buries you. And life will try to bury us.

Life buries us by taking what are gifts from Heaven and making living hells of them. Our language and words become insults and insecurities we must endure with a thick skin. We are created to relate to one another, and at times, we must endure this blessing when it feels like a curse. Even though we complain about it, work is also a gift from God, and yet too often our work is where we encounter the most negative stress.

We must endure. There is no such thing as a stress-free life of no suffering. Instead of taking away the pain, God gives us the blessed benefit of stamina in his presence. Like a muscle, endurance can be developed and made stronger. Runners work toward fortitude by pushing longer and harder miles out day after day. They pound the pavement punishing their bodies until the muscles develop long memories that say, “We can do this. We have survived before, and we will today. The pain will not win!” And we must not forget that God in the Flesh knows deeper than we about having staying power through pain.

Christ died on the cross suffocating in his own sweat, spit and blood. He had been beaten. He had been mocked. He had been publicly embarrassed. And still he leaned into the tenacity of love. Even when the weight of all of our brokenness and sin was placed upon his shoulders, Christ had the staying power to clear his throat and offer forgiveness.

Where we are weak, God is strong. When you feel life throwing the rocks and dirt upon you to bury you in your grave — rise with Christ. Endure. Persist. Thrive in spite of all that is against you. Nothing makes bullies more mad that to see that their efforts to annoy you are in vain. Nothing makes enemies more confused that to find kindness in you after they stabbed you in the back. The endurance of love always vanquishes the false strength of hate. Endure. After all, it’s what Jesus would do.

No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

– Jesus in Luke 9:62