I am increasingly convinced that there is a deep connection between the apostolic and endurance and while this may at first seem an unusual theme we should be encouraged that the outcome is hope. Jesus, of course, is described in relation to endurance in Hebrews 12:2 “who for the joy set before Him endured the cross.” James too addresses this theme of endurance:
“Count it all joy my brethren when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” (James 1: 2)
The life of Paul also bears out this theme of endurance. We read in Romans chapter 5 the great sequence of:
Exulting in our tribulations
Knowing that tribulations produce endurance
Endurance produces character
Character produces Hope
And hope does not disappoint
But before we can fully apprehend the enormity of this truth we need to read 2 Corinthians chapter 11. Here there is another list, the list of what Paul had endured and no doubt learned to exult in before he wrote his final letter to the church in Rome. The list includes:
Five times the thirty-nine lashes
Three beatings with rods
Paul had lived 2 Corinthians 11 before he wrote Romans 5, which tells us that Paul’s letters do not always appear in chronological order but rather by virtue of their length.
The word translated endurance in Romans 5 is translated from the Greek word ‘hupomone.’ It has an extraordinary meaning. Summing this up from a number of sources results in the following:
“The character of a man or woman, unswerved from their deliberate purpose and piety in life by even the greatest trials and sufferings.”
This is the place where hope is birthed. This meaning contains so much more than just sticking at something. It embraces the person, their purpose and their character.
Another place which I find endurance is in 2 Corinthians 4: 8-9. I particularly enjoy the passion translation for these verses:
“Though we experience every kind of pressure, we’re not crushed. At times we don’t know what to do, but quitting is not an option. We are persecuted by others, but God has not forsaken us. we may be knocked down, but not out.”
This place of endurance, pressing in, and not staying down is the way of the apostolic and therefore not just the Apostle. If you are in a tough place as you read this, be encouraged. Hope is not birthed when everything is going well but in the ability to exult in the midst of troubles and difficulties.
I want to suggest that the apostolic ones do not quit, they endure, they press on. They may at times seem to be down, but they are not out. They are able to say with a quote from the Rocky movies, “ it’s not how hard you hit that counts but how many times you can be hit and keep moving forward.”
It is an attitude and character again summed up so well again by Saint Paul: “I press on” (Philippians 3:14). You only need to press when there is resistance.
Be encouraged fellow apostolic one. It is in the enduring that your character is formed and reformed. Out of this place is a gift of hope, which does not disappoint.