My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing. – James 1:2-4
Do you consider the problems and issues of your life joyful? I hope you do, because I can’t think of any better way to handle them. However…
Here’s a phrase you may often hear from well–meaning friends and family: “This will just make you stronger.” That’s a common, somewhat misguided response when something bad happens. I suppose those words that are intended as comfort is based on this scripture, whether the one offering them knows it or not.
I think, however, that’s its important not to confuse strength with endurance. By some definitions, they’re the same thing, but by using the word strength instead of endurance, I think we’re sometimes wrapping ourselves up in the wrong message. The dictionary’s synonyms for strength are words like forcefulness, firmness, power, stoutness and sturdiness. Endurance, though, means permanence, the ability to withstand hardship and the ability to sustain oneself despite a long period of stressfulness or activity.
When a debilitating disease invades someone’s body yet she continues to live both physically and spiritually, that’s endurance. When first his father and then his mother dies, the man who is able to look to the future is enduring, if not strong.
To be strong, we would be forced to clench our fists, close our mouths tightly, hold ourselves fully upright and face the day as if yesterday never happened. To endure, however, all we have to do is be permanent. We have to find a way to continue to live both physically and spiritually despite stress and hardship.
Why do we feel the need to put on a facade of strength when we don’t feel strong? According to this scripture, it’s best to let endurance fully take us over so that we can mature and become complete. Strength is a mask; endurance is a characteristic of a healthy person.
Look back today at the times of worst trial in your life. Did you face them with the mask of strength or the characteristic of endurance? If you haven’t fully recovered from the things in life that have tried to bring you down, maybe it’s because you haven’t allowed the facade to fall and allowed endurance to have its full effect.
Find some endurance today, and from it, you’ll surely find joy.
Reading: Romans 15:13 and 1 Peter 1:8-9