The Secret to Building Endurance – Part 2
by: Erin Warren | June 15, 2017
Two weeks ago I shared the secret to building endurance. While margin, I believe, is one of the greatest keys to building endurance, there’s one more. But before I get into that, I want to share a little more of my heart behind endurance. You see, my family has been walking through some health challenges for just over a year now and this verse has been so close to my heart:
“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” – Romans 5:3-5
The Greek word for endurance sheds light on why it is so important to build endurance. The Greek word hypomone means “Steadfastness, constancy, endurance; the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings.”
Unswerving. Deliberate. Loyal. Even in the greatest trials and sufferings.
Y’all. I want to be that. I want to be unswerving and deliberate and loyal in my faith no matter what comes my way. But that kind of endurance doesn’t come easy. Did you notice what comes before endurance according to Romans 5?
Endurance must be built, and it is most effectively built through distress, affliction and oppression.
Back to my running days – I think the reason I didn’t enjoy training is that for the most part, training was done alone (at least for me). Running by myself wasn’t as fun as running with 10,000 other people. (Can you tell I’m an extrovert?!) Running with other people somehow seemed to make me run better. There was more excitement. The other runners unknowingly challenged me to run faster. This is why there are running clubs and training groups who get together to run.
When building endurance and walking through suffering you must give yourself margin, but you must also rely on the Body of Christ. You need people because you were never designed to walk this road alone.
Here are three roles the Body of Christ plays in building endurance:
The Coach – This is the person who holds you accountable, who doesn’t let you fall back. They run alongside, making sure you don’t fall away, that you keep your eyes on the prize, that you remain sharp. They speak truth in your life. When walking through suffering, it’s really easy to shrink back, but these people in your life help you focus forward on what God is doing in your life and how He is using your circumstances to point people to Christ. They sharpen you like Proverbs 27:17 says: “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”
For me, these have been mentors in my life, the ones I call when I need someone to help me see the truth. One of my mentors always reminds me to look for ways to be thankful. Another just has an amazing way with words. She always knows how to meet me where I am, but always points me back to the Scripture.
The Cheerleader – These are people on the sidelines who cheer you along. They encourage you, say “I’m so sorry you’re going through this.” They hug you, let you cry, but always lift you up.
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing… And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. – 1 Thessalonians 5:11; 14
Toward the end of the race, you will always see runners who have finished the race run back to find friends who are running behind them. They come beside them at one of the most difficult parts of the race and encourage them. They have medals around their neck as if to say “I was here too, but I finished. I kept running when it got hard, and I crossed that finish line. You can too!” Some of the greatest cheerleaders on our journey have been the ones who have run this race before. They’ve been down this road. They get the pain we are feeling as we cramp up and get tired, thinking how will we ever make it?
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. – 2 Corinthians 1:3-5
These are also the prayer warriors. When we first started out on this journey, I honestly had a hard time praying. Not because I was mad at God, but because I was just so tired. I spent so much energy focusing on my family and keeping life going, it was just hard to pray. I have been completely humbled by the people who have come alongside us as prayer warriors. People I don’t even know well will find me at church or comment on Facebook that they are praying for me. And you know what I’ve found? Prayer bonds people. Praying for people brings about a unique friendship that I wouldn’t otherwise have had.
Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. – James 5:13-16
The prayers of those who stand in the gap for me and my family have truly meant the world to me.
The Crutch – These are the doers, the ones who step in to help you run when you find yourself injured and can’t keep going alone. These are the people you lean on. We tend to think of a crutch as something bad, but in the context of the body of Christ, it is a good and necessary role.
In the South, we love to bring food. A casserole and homemade chocolate chip cookies have great power! But beyond that, I often found myself paralyzed when people asked, “What can we do to help?” or “If you need help in any way, please let me know.” We are so quick to say okay without ever following through. We had to humble ourselves. One friend from our Life Group called and said he had four free hours on a Saturday and was coming over to do whatever we needed. Another friend picked up my kids from school when we had doctor appointments. Yes, it cost them time. Yes, it may not have been convenient for them, but they stepped out into obedience and gave of themselves. It was beautiful.
All three of these people help lift the burden, which helps you run, which helps you build endurance. You can’t do it alone. I love how the author of Hebrews says it:
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. – Hebrews 10:24-25
Doing life together is so important to building the endurance needed to run the race you are on. I encourage you: if you aren’t in a small group, find one this week. When we allow others into our lives, we are better able to be deliberate, unswerving and loyal to our faith, even when facing great trials.