May the God Who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (NIV)
Endurance: The ability to withstand hardship or adversity, the ability to sustain a prolonged stressful effort or activity
Encouragement: giving hope or promise, to inspire with courage, spirit or hope, to spur on
I am not a distance runner. Long distance or short distance. I have done one 5K in my life and did actually train for it and jogged the entire distance. Just once. And I do believe that old men with walkers were passing me….Endurance was definitely in order for this.
And anyone who has given birth understands endurance also. My first two children were birthed without an epidural because I hate needles, not because I had some high virtuous standards against modern medicine. People say crazy things like I must be “so strong” or I must have had a great coach, but in reality I was just pretty dumb! Endurance was very necessary to accomplish the entire birth thing.
Now that I am a relatively new widow, endurance is absolutely my new best friend. Like one author said, widows have no other options. We have to “endure” this new chapter in our lives. The amplified version of this verse calls it “patient endurance or steadfastness”.
But isn’t it wonderful that God links endurance with encouragement? In my mind, endure isn’t the best word – it connotes such a struggle in doing something that isn’t going to be easy. But encouragement adds the cold glass of water at the end of a tough activity. Encouragement usually comes from outside ourselves while endurance comes from within ourselves. Again, the Amplified Version says that God supplies encouragement. When I was running the 5K, my encouragement came from my sweet running buddy by my side. She didn’t seem to be bothered by the turtles and snails that must have been passing us. She only had encouraging words and conversation for me. The time I was giving birth and decided to give the whole epidural thing a try, I needed encouragement to keep going when the medicine only worked on HALF of my body. This was my sixth baby and I should have been an expert by then, right?! I did know one thing, and that was it would come to an end soon and I could make it. I could endure this.
Don’t you want more out of life than just “enduring” your widowhood? I sure do. I need the other part, the encouragement to hold the hand of endurance. Hand in hand we can do this. We have the endurance and encouragement because we have a Savior who loves us. As a widow it is tough not to have your spouse cheering you on, giving you the encouragement that he may have done so often in the past. My husband always enjoyed listening to me play my flute at church in the orchestra. He always told me how beautiful it was to hear me play. Most weeks, most people have nothing to say about my flute playing so that encouragement is gone. But God still hears me each week. It is a sweet smelling offering to Him as I worship with the music. Sometimes that is all the encouragement I need. Other times, I need to hear from another widow with young kids that I am going to make it, that things will get better, that I CAN do this. God sends those ladies at different times along my journey. And the married women encourage me when they offer their husband to help in repairs or going to movies with my boys.
The ultimate goal of this enduring and encouragement is for the body of Christ to be unified in bringing glory to God. That is what brings God pleasure, I believe. All of us in harmony, doing what we do best to encourage others to be at their best. The Amplified says full sympathy with one another. This ministry, A Widow’s Might, has this goal in mind.
This is my prayer for you, my widow sisters – that as we endure this tough road without the support of a spouse, we will find encouragement from God through Scripture and friends, so that the body of Christ works together like the cogs in a wheel in order to bring glory to Christ Jesus.
Lord God, thank You for the encouragement You send through Scripture and through other believers. We have endured a lot already and we know our journey probably has many days ahead. Meet us today with that “cold glass of water” of encouragement. And show us the ones we can in turn encourage. We have a lot to offer and You are not finished using us yet. We love You, Jesus. Amen