Any student of military strategy would tell you that is important to plan your strategy with an end result in mind. To plan otherwise is short-sighted and could lead to ultimate defeat. Let’s use an example from sports–cross-county skiing. The object of the sport is to ski a course of ups, downs, and flat stretches faster than anyone else. It is not an easy feat to achieve; you must pace yourself and exert the right amount of energy at the right times. In the end, the person who manages both speed and stamina the best wins. It is far different kind of race than the downhill sprint skiing, which is over in a matter of minutes. A cross-country race can take hours.
So it is with the advancement of the Gospel. It is not a series of sprints with long breaks in between. It is a long and difficult race. We must plan ahead to finish strong. We cannot afford to flame out. We must “endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 2:3).” The word hardness can mean suffering or hardship. We are in this for the long haul.
That being said, two questions should naturally arise. First, how do I endure? And second, what does a successful warfare look like? Let’s look at the first question on endurance in the rest of this blog. To me, there are five aspects to endurance.
1. Endurance commits to pressing on no matter what. We must be committed to not quitting, no matter what seen or unseen obstacles we face. Philippians 3:14 declares Paul’s focus on finishing well:
14: I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
The word press can also mean “pursue.” So Paul gives us the concept of chasing down God’s best for our lives.
2. You will endure well if you truly believe God will be with you and victory is attainable. In Romans 8:38-39, we read:
38: For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39: Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Paul believed that God would always be with him. We cannot, in the middle of tough circumstances, allow ourselves to believe God has left us or is distant. He is always there .
3. Having others cheering you on will help you endure. Godly friends and mentors are invaluable in fighting the Christian fight. In Exodus 17, we read that when Moses would raise his arms, the Israelites would win the battle. When his arms went down, they would lose. Moses grew tired, so Aaron and Hur came alongside him and held up his arms. So we must be there for each other and strengthen each other in the fight.
4. We can learn from others’ past failures and thus be more committed to endure. Sadly, the pages of history are full of stories of men and women who started well but didn’t finish well. We must see where they got distracted or weak and commit to not making the same mistakes.
5. We must realize that we cannot live the Christian life on our own. We must rely on the Holy Spirit for help. In Romans 8:26-27, we read:
26: Likewise the Spirit also helps our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
27: And he that searches the hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because he makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
We won’t have all the answers. We can’t pray all the right prayers. We must know that the Holy Spirit can pray through us and get to the heart of the matter. I have had numerous times in my life where I admitted that I didn’t know how to pray about something or for someone. Yet when I surrendered to God, he would pray out things through me I didn’t fully understand. People would say “That was just what I needed” and I would point them back to God. He knows what it is needed.
We must surrender to His will, commit to standing strong through His power, and we will endure. As we all fight the good fight together, we can advance the kingdom of God on earth and boldly proclaim His love and power to our neighborhoods and the nations.