The Theory Regarding an Endurance Attitude
Have you ever wondered how serious Paul and James were in describing what our attitude should be toward endurance?
Paul writes: “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope….” (Romans 5:3-4 ESV)
James conveys a similar message: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
Perhaps when we read that we should be excited about tough times we find ourselves thinking, “You’re kidding, right?”
Respecting the Guys and Gals Going to the Gym
Some people work out and some don’t. But even those who don’t have to maintain a degree of admiration for people willing to endure the pain of exercise to achieve the gain of better health and a stronger body. It is one thing to endure the pain of life and another thing to seek out pain, and in some cases even pay for it. But millions do for the benefit that they derive, and their willingness to do so deserves commendation. We might look at those free weights with a negative attitude, thinking about the pain. They perceive them with a positive attitude, recognizing the gain that they can produce.
This is what Paul and James are seeking to convey. You can take a couch potato view of God’s spiritual fitness program, focusing on the short range pain, or you can adopt the attitude of the people in the gym who look beyond the pain and see the gain.
Acknowledging Attitudinal Health
At the risk of belaboring the point let me ask, in terms of physical workout which attitude is healthier? It seems evident that those willing to endure short-term pain for long-term gain, even being excited about all the pain producing equipment in the health club, manifest a healthier perspective.
So Paul and James may not be kidding. If a positive attitude toward painful but benefit producing physical exercise is wholesome and makes sense, how much more does the same principle apply to spiritual exercise and benefit.
I have devoted a couple of posts to the necessity of endurance, spiritual muscle tone. If this quality is of such high spiritual value, then we should maintain a certain level of enthusiasm for the exercise program that develops it.
In addition, our endurance exercise program has been designed by the world’s best Trainer. Therefore, we can have absolute confidence that He knows what He is doing—that the particular workout regimen He has designed for the day is exactly what we need.
Attitude and Benefit
God’s program for us can fail. That’s right, it can fail. A trainer can only do so much. Go to the gym with a negative attitude toward pain, failing to focus on the long-term gain, and I guarantee that all that equipment won’t do much good. The person with that attitude will never get beyond his flabby, weak condition. Likewise with God’s fitness program.
As trials come we can face them with a negative attitude, falling apart, adopting some irrational contemporary evangelical response such as being angry with God, or just plod through these difficulties viewing them as a necessary evil. Or we can say, “God allowed this difficulty to come my way, He will use it for my good, one such purpose is to develop my spiritual endurance, so with that confidence I will take it on with a positive attitude, believing that God will give me the heart of an overcomer.
As we adopt the latter perspective, we will experience a major aspect of the good that God has embedded in the challenge confronting us, a new level of spiritual endurance.
My father-in-law kept a motto on his study wall, which I inherited after his going to be with the Lord, which stated, “Not somehow, but triumphantly.” We can adopt either attitude. The first will leave us weak, while the latter will impart added strength to endure. It is our choice.