The journeys that depend on endurance are my least favorite, I would much rather keep moving than have to slow down and endure for a while. You know the experience, we’ve all had it. The long drive on vacation that slows to a crawl because someone has a flat tire 20 miles ahead and everyone needs to slow down to watch. It’s the sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach after the receptionist at your doctor’s office that tells you the doctor is running behind and you wait two hours before finally getting called back. Endurance is a required but not sought after experience we all must face.
Endurance is a common theme in the Bible, found in all the times waiting was required. The Israelites waited for their 40 years of wandering in the wilderness to come to an end before they could finally enter the Promised Land. For hundreds of years God’s people waited for the messiah to appear. Waiting showed up frequently in the Book of Psalms, along with the general complaint against God for not acting quick enough. Except for the story of creation which lasted 7 days, everything else people hoped for took a long time to happen.
Today I am thinking about the long wait and Psalm 13 where we read:
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I bear pain[a] in my soul,
and have sorrow in my heart all day long?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
3 Consider and answer me, O Lord my God!
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,
4 and my enemy will say, “I have prevailed”;
my foes will rejoice because I am shaken.
5 But I trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
6 I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.
The first four verses are one long complaint, nothing is going right and there is no end in sight. It’s become so bad in fact that the writer thinks it would be better to sleep and never wake again. And then comes the “but” and the key to endurance found in the last couple of verses. Even though the writer feels like giving up, it doesn’t end there. There’s an obvious change in tone with words reflecting a healthy kind of stubbornness that leaves all the complaining behind, choosing instead to trust and rejoice.
Its sure isn’t easy to do this, but when we choose to trust God and to find those good things that let us rejoice, the long wait starts feeling shorter and less of a burden. Trusting and rejoicing instead of giving in to the complaining we feel like doing, is our way of refusing to let the circumstances get the best of us. It’s a healthy kind of stubbornness, one of those rare virtues that make it possible to endure the long wait.