“To endure the cross is not tragedy; it is the suffering which is the fruit of an exclusive allegiance to Jesus Christ.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Do you know anybody that is offended right now? Do you know anybody that gets offended very easily? There is lots of offense going around the church, the society, the culture. Everybody is offended. It is the enemy of the devil. It is a main weapon of his to destroy your walk with Christ and with others. Offense kills your fruit.
Jesus said, “And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.” (Matthew 24:10-13)
But we also have this promise: “I will return again to My place Till they acknowledge their offense. Then they will seek My face; In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.” (Hosea 5:15) Our offenses will keep us from God, but when we confess them, we can then seek him and find him again.
We hate delays. We don’t like to wait in line at the grocery store. We don’t like to wait in line at the airport. We really hate to wait for food at restaurants. Delays in our spiritual life are even more frustrating. But delays serve a purpose. Delays in your faith walk reveal the depth of your roots. Faith comes by the word and by hearing the word of God. But we need patience added to our faith. Faith needs patience to see the outcome of it’s growth, to see it’s fruit. We need what the church father’s called endurance.
Church fathers called endurance the queen of the virtues. When a person has a preserving spirit, they make it past the hard times and make it to the harvest of their faith. As we follow Christ, it might get hot. Stuff might happen. Jesus said trials will happen because of the word of God in our life. Satan will try to take our faith through intense pressure. Don’t let him. You might have been believing for something to happen for the last six years, but you could be six days away from it happening. Don’t give up.
So often I hear people ask: how long should I believe? Until it shows up. Don’t stop. It’s during the waiting that endurance is having it’s full work. It’s during this time we are working on the garden of our heart. You might see you need to take some stones out—parts of your life where you have become hardened to God or to others. You might have to dig down and cultivate some deepness in it—making sure that you can withstand dry seasons. It’s all about faith and patience. Faith goes up and patience goes down. Faith goes into heaven, patience grounds me in God until he shows up.
God is so good. He gave us so many examples in the Bible of men and women that developed faith and patience. We see this most explicitly in Abraham’s life. God shows up to Abraham in Genesis:
Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!”
And he said, “Here I am.”
Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”
So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. Then on the third day Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the lad[a] and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.”
So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and the two of them went together. But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!”
And he said, “Here I am, my son.”
Then he said, “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”
And Abraham said, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” So the two of them went together.
Then they came to the place of which God had told him. And Abraham built an altar there and placed the wood in order; and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.
But the Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!”
So he said, “Here I am.”
And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”
Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. And Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, “In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”
Then the Angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time out of heaven, and said: “By Myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son— blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” So Abraham returned to his young men, and they rose and went together to Beersheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beersheba. (Genesis 22:1-19)
God made a promise and stood beside it. He can’t lie. God stands behind his word. His promises are true. My word will never fade away.
The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever. (Isaiah 40:8)
Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven. (Psalm 119:89)
When God says it nothing can stop it.
Abraham had the promise at seventy-five and then had the children at one hundred years of age. No Viagra. No chemicals. Just a Holy Ghost moment. And when it came about, when Sarah’s womb was resurrected, Isaac was born and the promise was fully realized.