Developing Endurance (or How I Learned Not to Be Like the Israelites)

dragonsA few mornings ago, I snuck out of bed early to spend a little time in prayer and Bible reading. After reading a few chapters in Numbers about our dear friends, the Israelites, and their tendency to complain about everything, I found myself in Hebrews 10, encouraging myself to hold fast to maintaining my faith and God. It seems like I often wander over to Hebrews after reading about the Israelites crisis of faith, reason being I don’t want to make the same mistakes they made due to their inability to trust God.

As I read, verse 36 stuck out to me in a way that it had not before. It says – “For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.” This verse is powerful in the context of the verses around it which addresses how people of God have suffered for their faith – they have been ridiculed, have experienced tribulation of various kinds, and have even have had their property taken away. Yet in spite of all that they have been through, the writer of Hebrews admonishes them to not give up on God, and to even endure in the midst of experiencing impossible circumstances. Why? Because after they have done the will of God, after they have suffered a little bit, after they have held on when all hope seemed lost, they will receive from God what he has promised.

At the time, I am sure, the Israelites didn’t know why God allowed them to experience some of the things that they did in the wilderness. Every day for 40 years, they ate the same thing, wore the same clothes, had the same shoes. Every day for 40 years, they wandered around in the desert and lived under constant threat of their enemies. Sure it was difficult, no doubt, but God had a purpose in mind. Their present suffering wasn’t going to last forever. God would bring them into the Promised Land. Unfortunately, the Israelites couldn’t see beyond their situation and failed to trust God. Due to their lack of faith, and particularly in Number 13 and 14, they ended up forfeiting the miracle, the promise of God for their lives and left it to their descendants to inherit instead (see Joshua 6).

What the Israelites needed was endurance, and probably a little perspective, too! They needed to know the truth of what God says in Hebrews, “after you have done the will of God, you will receive what was promised.” The suffering that they experienced at the time, wasn’t going to last forever. It was temporal. They just needed to keep trusting, keep believing God until he brought it about.

Like the Israelites, I know that I need to develop this same spirit of endurance. And I am sure you do too! Whatever we are experiencing now –  persecution, financial hardship, unemployment, uncertainty, depression, broken relationships, grief over the loss of a loved one – will not last forever. Romans 8.18 says – “…the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with that glory that is to be revealed in us.” The glory is coming. The promise is coming. We may not know when, and frankly its not for us to know when. All we need to know is that God will always come through on what He promised. Hold on until then!

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