Endurance and Patience with Joy
Updated: May 13
Being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy - Colossians 1:11 ESV
This verse is so helpful for us to understand the theology underneath suffering. Endurance and patience with joy. I kind of get how endurance and patience go together, but joy? It makes no sense. You need endurance and patience when things are hard when it is a day of famine. How long is this thing going to last? How long are we going to be waiting to not be in this stay in place, where we can be together, in person? This has been so frustrating for me, the extravert in me is dying to be able to fellowship with all of you. So in affliction, in the midst of pandemics, You need endurance because things are hard….but we are also to have joy? Putting these ideas together is like an oxymoron – that is a big word, what it means is if you believe this, you’re a moron. No, just kidding, an oxymoron is a figure of speech that uses two words that are an apparent self-contradiction. Like jumbo shrimp…get it, haha…or freezer burn? Or like endurance and patience with joy.
And this is a consistent theme throughout the New Testament – Joy in the midst of suffering, difficulty, famine.
The letter to Hebrews says of Jesus that “for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Jesus faced the suffering of the cross for the joy set before him – the joy of the salvation of His people, the joy of bringing God glory. Like the Pains of childbirth – you know when you get pregnant that there is pain coming, but on the other side of that pain is an incredible joy with this new little baby. But go with me one step further here. When Jesus faced this suffering of the cross, in Gethsemane He prayed “God let this cup pass from me.” Nobody just says hurt me, nobody signs up in some masochistic way for this kind of pain. That's not a right understanding of scripture. We don’t ask for suffering. But in the midst of that suffering, there is a joy set before us.
First Peter says “in this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, Peter recognizes that we have been grieved. We hurt. He doesn’t go self-help on us…just minimize the hurt, act like everything is fine. This is not your imagination playing tricks on you. But we rejoice in suffering…why? so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. We rejoice because of the strengthening of our faith that takes place in these times, maybe like no other time in our lives. God looks at the faith you have, the way that you know him, rejoice in him, trust in him and his salvation…he looks at that faith as more precious than gold, more important than your bank account, more important than the friends you have. And he will use trials like we are experiencing right now to strengthen your faith – the tested genuineness of your faith. If you have no hope of salvation on that day if this world is all you have, then this kind of joy we are talking about makes no sense. But we have this hope. and that fundamentally changes the way we engage suffering. That is why we have patience and endurance with joy.
Theology of Suffering
I want you to stop here for a minute and think about your theology. Because what you believe, the theology that you have coming into this will profoundly shape how you respond. So many times when I am praying for someone, I am asking God to do some great work in their life, if they come to that prayer skeptical, doubting that it is even true…this makes it so hard for them to receive from God. We spent some time on theology today, and I did that because I want you to examine your own theology of suffering. Because with all the darkness right now, my concern is it will drag us into Apathy, despair, anxiety…These prevalent emotions of the day. Instead of being dragged under, God wants to do a work of “tested genuineness of your faith”. To put your feet on the rock.
* This post is the beginning of the Church Planting South Dawson May Newsletter Follow the link for the complete May update.