Let's start with the definition of the words Enduring and Hope.
Enduring, adj- lasting, durable
Hope, verb- a person or thing in which expectations are centered
Last week I was going through our Netflix checking out what tv shows were on there that I hadn't seen in a long time. I had a few mins of peaceful silence and thought maybe I'd catch up on a show or 2 that I'd missed. I came across 19 Kids and Counting. Regardless of what your opinion is on this family and the choices they've made regarding kids/parenting, there is one thing that's undeniable- they love the Lord. I hadn't seen the show in a long while and remembered that I wanted to specifically watch the episode in which they discovered they'd lost their 20th child at 18 weeks gestation. (I'm a glutton for punishment, I know). So, I found the episode and turned it on. Of course I cried through most of the episode, but I was deeply struck by the first words that came out of Mrs. Duggers' mouth when they found out they'd lost their little girl.
"The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord."
She was quoting part of Job 1:21 in the deepest part of her grief. Immediately, these words were impressed on my heart- Enduring Hope.
On Saturday night after the girls had gone to bed and Aaron was sitting and talking with me as I was working on some sewing, he shared with me a story a friend of his had posted on Facebook. That friend shared a story of a person they knew that was badly burned when they were trying to get their gas fireplace to ignite. The fire place basically blew up in his face severely burning his neck and shoulders. He was sharing the details of the situation, the diagnosis, and then he said... (This is a parphrase because I don't have his exact words)...
As I was laying in the ambulance being transported, I was praying and asking God that this situation would be used for His glory and that regardless of the outcome I accept his will for my life.
Man, talk about a punch in the gut. He was facing perhaps one of the greatest challenges of his life yet he was offering up his circumstances to God with a willing heart. And immediately, two words impressed themselves on my heart again- Enduring Hope.
I guess I look at it like this- the word is enduring, not forever, not easy, not just because. Enduring means lasting, durable. That insinuates that it had to go through something, it had to experience struggle, and grief, and hardship. If It hadn't experienced those things, it wouldn't be "enduring". It would just be. And hope is a choice that we make. Kind of like faith. In the depths of whatever we're going through (good or bad) we have to make the choice that we believe that God is with us. We have to believe that God is good. We have to believe that God is working things out for us. It's hard. Especially (if you're like me) and you seemed to be ruled by your emotional self more times than not. My emotions aren't always the most logical things.
Anyways, how does this fit into out 1 Thessalonians study? Well, like this... Faithful Work is the banner under which we operate on a daily basis. It's the flag we fly above our lives. God has called each and every one of us to our individual faithful work. Ourloving deeds are the processes in which we carry out our faithful work. Our daily ins and outs. Each choice we make. They shape what our faithful work looks like. And enduring hope is the result. If we let God direct our loving deeds under the banner of our faithful work, the result with be a hope that is unshakable. We will KNOW that regardless of what is happening- Blessed be the name of the Lord.
I don't know about you, but I've got a lot of work to do. Sometimes I feel like on the other end of whatever I'm dealing with at the time, my "enduring" better cause me to have a hope that is strong and shiny like a diamond. Sometimes life feels overwhelming. It's hard for me to fly my faithful work flag because I don't see the point or direction where God is leading. It's hard for me to live out loving deeds because I'm frustrated, tired, angry, scared, stressed, fill in the blank, etc. But these are the times when I know that I need to raise that flag high, set myself aside, and live out the love and hope. Are you willing to do that today? Even though it may be hard? Even though it might not make sense? Even though no one else is doing it?