2 Thessalonians 3:5 May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.
We like to talk about God’s love, but not so often about Christ’s perseverance. Frankly, patient endurance (perseverance) seems to be a rare grace these days! This is really “the age of the instant,” with everything from microwave cooking to high-speed Internet to speed dating, and seemingly no patience for anything slower. The current COVID-19 mess could well be, among other things, a lesson in slowing down, since so many are working from home or even losing their jobs outright because of “social distancing.” As Paul says here, God’s love is essential for successful Christian living, but so is Christ’s perseverance. Countless marriages are destroyed because one or both of the partners wants things better now, and discards it all rather than working patiently for change. Then there are the things that don’t get better, and we know it: degenerative diseases and the like. Some of God’s most precious gems have been polished by such things. Whether circumstances polish us or destroy us often depends precisely on whether we trust God enough to keep going. Some people give up and destroy themselves, either through drugs or suicide. It’s not coincidental that Paul lists God’s love along with Christ’s perseverance, because it is virtually impossible to persevere in some circumstances without an assurance that God loves us, whatever it looks like. That can take a special gift of faith, but God has that available for us if we will receive it. As in so many things, it comes down to our decision: trust or not trust, endure or give up. We are not called to be passive doormats, and positive action is often called for, but as Paul wrote to the Philippians, our attitude needs to be that of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 2:5-11)
I am having a very small lesson in that right now. A week ago this morning I was in the middle of my regular 5km walk, and stubbed my right big toe, hard. (I walk at 6km/hr.) The next thing I knew I was on the ground, wondering just what had happened! I managed to walk home, though rather more slowly than going the other direction, but didn’t go to the doctor for x-rays until the next day. The upshot was that I didn’t have any outright broken bones, but the joint in my right thumb (which I had hit catching myself) was definitely swollen, and I was told I had a good possibility of losing the toenail on my right big toe. Now, a week later, I am much improved, but my right hand and big toe are still definitely sore, and I am hesitant to borrow a tiller for our garden, which I had hoped to do last week, or even to go walking. That calls for patient endurance! Thinking about what my wife endures with Parkinson’s Disease, my experience is minor in the extreme, but it’s still a lesson for me. Of greater importance is dealing with some of the people around me, who seem to have their ears tuned to the devil’s lies far more than to God’s truth. There too, perseverance is called for. I am never to give up, but keep interceding on their behalf, doing spiritual warfare and not yielding anyone to the enemy, choosing to trust God for His ultimate solution.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Help me keep my focus on what really matters, doing Your will in Your way on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!