Patient Endurance

Recently, my roommate came to me, her face pulled into that painful smile you get when you’re sharing bad news that isn’t really that big of a deal but it’s still your fault. “I think I killed our seedlings.” We had stored our seed trays in her room—which happens to be the warmest in the house—for those frigid winter days of April. But life happened, and the initial enthusiastic burst that had inspired our gardening adventure had begun to fade. Needless to say, they hadn’t been watered in a while. I laughed because I was all to familiar with this phenomenon.

If you’re anything like me, a quick rifling through of your closet, garage, or desk unveils unfinished projects and a quick-read through of your journal reveals forgotten and unaccomplished resolutions: reminders of a moment of enthusiasm quickly thwarted by busyness, boredom, or just straight up laziness. 

So I knew. I knew that life happens and projects get put on the back burner. 

My connect group (shout out to Ypsi Young Adults!), recently studied 2 Corinthians 8, where Paul is encouraging the Corinthians to follow through on their previously expressed desire to give generously. One verse in particular struck me: 

11 Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means.

While Paul is talking about giving, I am inclined to think this admonition can be applied to much more. I have long recognized this tendency in my life—this tendency of leaving endeavors incomplete as eagerness fades—though previous attempts to thwart it ended prematurely (we'll call that predictable irony). As I prayed through this, I felt the Lord speaking the phrase “patient endurance.” 

“Small things done repeatedly bring harvest, like watering plants and deadheading flowers. Patient endurance brings abundant harvest. Patient endurance yields fruit. Come up under a yoke of faithful discipline... Sow faithfully, endure patiently, only then does one see a harvest (when the season for harvest comes).”

So we brought our seedlings to the dining room, where they were out in the open for all of us to see: where they would have a better chance of getting watered and cared for. We watched as slowly, the wilting leaves began to gain strength and new green sprouts emerged. We watched with surprise as one group of seedlings we had given up on, a group which should have taken one week to emerge, began to sprout after four. We replanted some that were clearly irredeemable.

When you plant a garden, you can’t just plant a seed and let it go. You plant a seed, you water it, you put it in the sun, you transplant it when ready, you weed, you deadhead. You do the same things over and over and over until the harvest comes. 

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

Enthusiasm is great at planting and even harvesting. But it’s terrible at tending. That’s where patient endurance comes in. 

I know this is common sense. But that doesn’t make it any easier or more natural. We live in a world of instant gratification and quick results. As a society, patient endurance is not exactly our strong suit. For us young'uns, we may not have had to patiently endure for very much.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control…Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:21

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:8

Ask the Lord what in your life you may have begun enthusiastically that you need to now endure patiently: a project, a job, investing in a relationship, praying for a family member or friend. Trust that through the Spirit, you have access to all you need for faithful discipline and patient endurance. 

Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means.

About the Author: Ana is a Michigan native who likes putting honey in her coffee, singing in the car, and dancing when walking would do. She currently works in the Ann Arbor area as a dance teacher and a receptionist and marketing consultant at Arbor Woman Pregnancy Center. Her heart is for every person to know the deep love, identity, and mercy that can be found in the Father.