Tag Archives: Endurance

Super Powers

If you need to lift up a car, sometimes adrenalin is enough.  But every now and again it would be nice to be Superman.  Admit it.  Who doesn’t, when stuck in a  traffic jam, want to don the cape and go sort it out, tossing vehicles into the ditch to get things moving.  Who doesn’t wish they could destroy ISIS or maybe even the IRS?  Be nice to have super powers, wouldn’t it?

Followers of Jesus are supposed to have super power but God’s power, not Superman’s power  And that’s better.  God’s power might not sell comics, but it is mighty. 

Paul prays his friends, as a result of being filled with the Spirit of God, would be:

“…growing in the knowledge of God,  being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience,
  –  (Colossians 1:10b-11)

God’s power doesn’t come with a cape.  But notice how it comes to us, how much power it is and what it is for. 

God’s power comes as we grow in the knowledge of God. Knowledge, in this sense, conveys the idea of intimate relationship.  It’s not book learning, it’s the way a kid learns more about his dad by going fishing with him.  The better our relationship with God, the more we can expect  His power in our lives.

How much power?  God’s power is “according to His glorious might.”  God’s glorious might was displayed when He spoke galaxies into existence.  But don’t expect to do any celestial remodeling.  “According to” means power given by God, sufficient for His purpose. God’s power, at its Source is unlimited.  As it is given to us, it is sufficient.  When you charge your phone, you plug it into the electrical grid, which crackles and pops with millions of watts of power.  But you only receive the tiny trickle of that immense power sufficient to charge your phone. Any more, and it would destroy your phone, maybe burn down your house. God’s unlimited power, available to followers of Jesus, is given in sufficient measure to achieve His purposes.

And what is His purpose? What is God’s power for, as described in this prayer?  As we grow in our relationship with Him, God’s amazing power is given to us “so that you may have great endurance and patience…”  While Superman’s power clobbers bad guys, God’s power enables endurance and patience. 

It that sounds disappointing, and you would rather clobber than endure, consider which act of power has been has actually made things better in the long haul: the nuclear blast over Hiroshima or the endurance of Jesus on the Cross?

The Suffering Paradox

Tough times are good times.  That’s because tough times make us tougher. That truth, known by farmers, construction workers, soldiers and athletes, has been largely ignored in a culture in which obesity is a growing threat (no pun intended).  But it’s not just about building muscles.  It’s more about building steadfastness, the willingness to keep going in the midst of suffering.  Here’s how Jesus’ brother James said it:

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4)

Notice that this spiritual toughness is developed by “trials of many kinds,” as a result of the “testing of your faith.”  When everything is going smoothly, much of our faith is theoretical.  Tough times are opportunities to check out what you really believe, to put faith to the test and see if it holds.

Elmer’s glue used to run a commercial in which the ends of two planks were overlapped and glued together to form a diving board.  It took faith for the guy who first went out on the end of that thing to bounce up and down on it.  You can imagine that his first moves were rather tentative.  But as he discovered its strength, as his faith in the glue increased, he became more willing to put some weight into it.  As we face trials in life and are forced to “bounce up and down” on what we have been taught to believe about God.  As we do so, we discover for ourselves that He is faithful.  The tougher our trials, the tougher our faith.

James says this increased faith-toughness builds perseverance and maturity.  Perhaps the example of this truth that is gaining the most attention right now is the story of Louis Zamperini, in the film, “Unbroken.”  But, as inspiring as that story may be, people won’t develop perseverance from watching the movie.  They develop perseverance by testing their faith in tough times.

That’s why tough times are good times.

Quotes: The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.