Endurance
   by
Rocky Fleming
Day One
And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.  (Romans 5:4 NLT)
In 1912 a three-mast barquentine (ship) from Sandefjord Norway was constructed.  Along with the sails, it had a 350 HP steam engine.  This vessel was designed for exploration in polar conditions.  Therefore, it was an extra sturdy ship.  Even so, it would be crushed by an arctic ice pack three years later.  Moral of the story?  Greater natural forces can overcome anything man-made.  Only God can produce something or someone who can endure against greater odds.  Are you enduring your life for Him, or is your endurance dedicated for your own goals and aspirations?  An effort will be required either way; however, one will be for a greater good and will provide greater benefits.
Sir Ernest Shackleton was the captain of this ship when it broke apart. There would be twenty-eight men who abandoned ship that day.  It would take two years and the most intriguing story of survival that I have ever read about to end the trials for those men.  Against great odds all of these men would make it home alive.  It is the story of men, a leader, and the great capacity that mankind has to survive.  Even so, they have all now passed away, and we only remember their story.  This is the way it will be for us all one day.  While alive, each of us will be required to summon our courage to simply endure another challenge, whether it be health, financial, or a relationship or job lost.  Some of us will be victors for a while, and we will say, Won another one! But, in the end, all of us will be judged if we gave our greatest effort for Christ.  In the end, if we do it right, our endurance will pay off and we will find welcome relief.  Before that time we will engage in a series of life challenges that will require endurance, and it is in these trials that we find great blessings.  This is week I want us to evaluate where we are placing our best effort, and some of the blessings we get from our endurance.
There is a saying that goes like this:  If we do not know Christ, then the best life we will ever experience will be found in this life.  However, if we know Christ and we are His, then the worst life we will ever experience will be found in this life.  So, the big question is, Which life are you enduring for, the one you hope the world will give you, or the life Christ promises you?
When we seek the things of the world, eventually the world and its things will let us down.  Look around at this world we now live in.  Do you really think the future of this world can give you what you deeply long for?  Have you not come to understand that it will disappoint you eventually?  If enduring efforts is about something as short sighted as what you get out of this life and about making your life a comfortable journey without serious challenges, then you are not investing your efforts wisely, and you will sooner or later discover it.  However, if you endure trials and challenges for the sake of Christ and His glory, then remember what He said:
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33 ESV)
A Christian has tremendous resources in the Lord for every challenge we face.  There will be times like Shackleton experienced where we must seek those resources; for if God does not intervene, the odds against us will take over.  Here is what he said about the struggles they faced:
When I look back at those days, I have no doubt that Providence guided us, not only across those snowfields, but across the storm-strewn sea that separated Elephant Island from our landing place on South Georgia. I know that during that long and racking march of 36 hours over the unnamed mountains and glaciers of South Georgia, it seemed to me often that we were four, not three. I said nothing to my companions on the point, but afterwards Worsley said to me, “Boss, I had a curious feeling on the march that there was another person with us.” Crean confessed to the same idea. One feels the dearth of human words, the roughness of mortal speech, in trying to describe things intangible, but a record of our journeys would be incomplete without a reference to a subject very near to our hearts.”
Sir Ernest mentioned that he and his men could sense the presence of God walking them through their impossible challenges so great that they could sense His presence.  This is the point that needs to be understood.  When we endure any challenges, we face them with Him by our side, and there is no challenge that He cannot overcome.  This is our motivation to keep enduring just one more step in the right direction.  It is because He is by our side enduring with us.  More on this tomorrow.

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