Joy’s friend hid in the shadows as we explored joy in this series.
Deep biblical joy can’t exist without its friend: endurance.
When I visit my girlfriend M., she sits on her sofa with a puffy wrap around her knee.
On the other end of the wrap, a small machine hisses and whooshes; it helps decrease her pain.
She injured it playing her favorite sport: basketball.
The physical therapist assigned little exercises, such as tightening her thigh muscles, which reflexively lift the knee. She was skeptical but she did the exercises over and over.
Later she expressed surprise at how such little movements could reduce her pain.
It has been over a year.
She no longer needs crutches but she still can’t wear high heels. But recently she did ski for half a day.
Photo used with permission by Flickr CC User:Keith McDuffee
Throughout this process, I admired M.’s perseverance as she exercised small movements (over and over) and endured the pain of recovery.
Her basketball playing days may be over but she smiled because she can still shoot baskets with her son.
“…and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith,
who for the [ultimate] joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the [immediate] shame,
and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Heb. 12:1b-2 (added emphasis)
My girlfriend endured pain and daily exercises for the joy of her recovery.
Sara Frankl endured chronic debilitating pain and kept choosing joy till the end. Kay Warren also kept choosing joy.
The Greek word (hypomenō) for “endured” in Hebrews 12:2 is a verb. It conveys the idea of remaining/abiding under a place; “to persevere” or in Jesus’s case “to endure bravely and trustfully.” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words)
Joy is not “happy clappy,” as my friend Linda Stoll observed.
Joy is tough. Joy empowers us to endure hardship.
What hardship are you persevering under today? A difficult job? A broken marriage (*)? Dealing with a prodigal? Depression? Chronic pain?
What was the “joy set before” Jesus? It enabled him to persevere on the cross when he could have stepped off. He hung naked and bleeding with his muscles ripped and shredded in places.
Love for us, not nails, held Jesus on the cross.
Was his joy knowing he’d bring us into his kingdom of love and light?
We can experience His life and presence now and forever.
Was his joy knowing evil wouldn’t win the war although it would for a while longer win some battles?
Jesus endured and he overcame so he sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Whatever you struggle to endure, you’re not alone.
Jesus overcame so we can overcome with his help if we endure with joy.
By God’s Spirit, we can choose joy (Gal. 5:22).
We can endure as we fix our eyes on Him.
Breath in grace and do the next small thing.
Over and over.
What do you think of the connection between biblical joy and endurance?
What helps you to persevere under challenging circumstances?
What is one small thing you can do today to choose joy?
(*) [To be clear, I am not advocating enduring an abusive relationship or marriage where your safety or the safety of your children is at risk.)
“A person cannot change another person, but God can.” – Vicki Rose, from Part 2 of their interview.
Vicki Rose wrote a book Every Reason to Leave.
The Joy Series was inspired by my desire to grow in joy.
I will probably write one or two more posts till our Joy Series ends.
This is the 6th post in our Joy Series.
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