In this life, we are bombarded. Bombarded with lies. Pleasures. We are tempted daily to give in. To give up. To let go. It’ll just be easier if we do. It’ll be better to just stop fighting. That’s the thought. And that’s the temptation. My encouragement to you today is to choose instead to endure. It will be worth it in the end.
For any of you recovering from anything, you know it’s hard work. You know there are days when you crave that thing that you are trying to quit so much. You know there are days when it would just be easier to have a taste. Have a sip. Have a look. But we know where that leads.
It leads to destruction. Our sins take us farther than we want to go, and keep us longer than we want to stay. They pervert our thoughts. They tear our spirits. They distract us from the good and the godly. We chase that feeling, pleasure, activity until it ruins us and leaves us in the mud. Broken. Distraught. Empty.
We believed sins lies. We believed the lies that told us that all we needed was a little more. A little more time. A little more pleasure. A little more satisfaction AND THEN we could have fulfillment. Joy.
But it’s just that….a lie. A lie that we have to stop believing.
Change though is hard. It’s so difficult. It’s not the easy route. It’s the road less traveled. It takes perseverance and endurance. It takes excruciating pain and grit. It shows itself in a blood curdling scream as you lift the weight of life up above your shoulders. It is the tears that run down your face as you have been beaten to a pulp and you mentally, emotionally, and spiritually are trying to hold on to life, love, and joy.
Change is choosing to do things differently. And you have to want to change. No one can change you. You have to want to change, and then comes the hardest part. You have to endure.
Endurance is standing your ground. It’s believing in the truth of who you want to be, and standing by faith that one day you can overcome these desires, addictions, pains, and sufferings that you currently experience and live. Live the life you know you want to live. Be the person you know you want to be. But you have to overcome first. You have to learn to endure.
Endurance on our own is futile. It might last a few days, or weeks, but without Jesus, our attempt to endure is useless. We will fall back into our desires and our pleasures without Jesus holding onto us.
The writer of Hebrews paints a picture of life in chapter 12. That it’s a race. A race that we run.
Now racing is hard. It takes preparation. Hours of running around the block. The street. Through the woods. Working our way up from half a mile to a mile to two to three and so on.
It is mentally taxing. Emotionally draining. Physically painful. We build stamina the more that we run. The once painful thing is still painful but more joyous. It’s still painful, but it has purpose. It’s still painful but it has direction.
This is life. Living a life of endurance takes practice. We build stamina the more that we run the race of this life well. Choosing love over hate. Choosing humility over pride. Choosing selflessness over selfishness.
Running the race of life begins with a choice. The choice to change. And then once we choose to change, then the choice to give up. And then when we give up, we choose to endure the loss, the pain, the grief that comes with giving up something to gain something better.
“Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26).
Jesus laid it out clearly for his disciples on his way to the cross. That a life of following Him would be costly. It would cost them everything. That they would have to lay themselves down. That they would have to give themselves up. That they would suffer because He would suffer. They would suffer for His namesake. This suffering would be worth it though.
He poses this question to them: For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?
The answer? Nothing. It will gain us nothing if we gain all the pleasures, treasures, desires of our heart, because in the end, through giving up, giving in, letting go, and quitting, we will lose our souls.
And if we lose our souls, then in the end, what do we really gain?
Nothing. We lose everything, because in essence, we gave away our most precious lasting commodity for pennies.
And thus we have lost everything.
BUT….if we endure, if we let go of our past, our struggles, if we fight for life, if we stand up for truth, if we bear our sufferings, if we…………………
THEN……we will live. We will be whole. We will be held. We will be filled. We will have joy. We will never be alone. And we will finish the race well.
So the question today is this: Are you willing to endure, to give up, to let go of the things of the world to gain your soul?
It will be HARD. PAINFUL. You will crave your former life. You will have ungodly desires just welling up within you. But it will be worth it.
It will be worth it. Worth it to be able to sleep without guilt at night. Worth it to be able to be whole and honest. Worth it to struggle but not be overtaken. Worth it to stand before Jesus one day and to know that we gave life our all. That we loved well. That we fought hard. And that we made it.
Choose to endure today. Choose to change. Let go. Give up. The things of this world are passing away. They are temporary. Finite.
Jesus is eternal. He is who we run for and run to. He is the goal.
Choose to endure friends. Today.