“Let endurance complete its work, so that you may be complete and sound in all respects, not lacking in anything.”—JAS. 1:4.
SONGS: 24, 7
1, 2. (a) What can we learn from the endurance of Gideon and his 300 men? (See opening picture.) (b) According to Luke 21:19, why is endurance so important?
THE battle was grueling. Israelite soldiers led by Judge Gideon had chased their enemies—the Midianite army and its allies—all night for a distance of some 20 miles (32 km)! The Bible relates what happened next: “Gideon then came to the Jordan and crossed it. He and the 300 men with him were tired.” Nevertheless, Gideon and his men had not yet won the war, for about 15,000 enemy soldiers remained. After having suffered years of Midianite oppression, the Israelites knew that this was no time to give up. So to eliminate the enemy, “they kept up the pursuit” and subdued Midian.—Judg. 7:22; 8:4, 10, 28.
2 We too are fighting a relentless battle. Our enemies include Satan, his world, and our own imperfections. Some of us have battled for decades, and with Jehovah’s help, we gained victories. At times, though, we may get tired of battling our enemies and of waiting for the end of this system of things. Indeed, we have not yet won the complete victory. Jesus warned that we who live in the last days would face severe trials and cruel mistreatment, but he also said that gaining the victory would depend on our endurance. (Read Luke 21:19.) What is endurance? What will help us to endure? What can we learn from those who have endured? And how can we “let endurance complete its work”?—Jas. 1:4.
WHAT IS ENDURANCE?
3. What is endurance?
3 In the Bible, enduring means more than simply putting up with trials or adversity. Endurance involves our mind and heart, or the way we react to hardships. A person who endures manifests courage, steadfastness, and patience. Endurance is “the spirit which can bear things, not simply with resignation, but with blazing hope,” says one reference work. “It is the quality which keeps a man on his feet with his face to the wind. It is the virtue which can transmute the hardest trial into glory because beyond the pain it sees the goal.”
4. Why can we say that endurance is motivated by love?
4 Christian endurance is motivated by love. (Read 1 Corinthians 13:4, 7.) Love for Jehovah motivates us to endure anything that is in harmony with his will. (Luke 22:41, 42) Love for our brothers helps us to endure their imperfections. (1 Pet. 4:8) Love for our marriage mate enables us to endure “tribulation” that even happily married couples experience and to strengthen the marital bond.—1 Cor. 7:28.
WHAT WILL HELP YOU TO ENDURE?
5. Why is Jehovah the best one to help us endure?
5 Turn to Jehovah for strength. Jehovah is “the God who supplies endurance and comfort.” (Rom. 15:5) He alone fully understands not only the problems we face but also the way our environment, emotions, and even our genetic makeup affect us. He is thus the best one to equip us to endure. “He satisfies the desire of those who fear him,” the Bible says. “He hears their cry for help, and he rescues them.” (Ps. 145:19) How, though, will God answer our prayers for strength to endure?
6. As promised in the Bible, how may Jehovah “make the way out” of trials for us?
6 Read 1 Corinthians 10:13. When we ask Jehovah to help us cope with trials, he will “make the way out.” Does Jehovah maneuver matters to remove the trial? Perhaps. Often, however, he makes the way out “so that [we] may be able to endure it.” Yes, Jehovah strengthens us so that we “may endure fully with patience and joy.” (Col. 1:11) And since he knows our physical, mental, and emotional limits so intimately, Jehovah will never allow a situation to develop to a point that we cannot remain faithful.
7. Illustrate why we need spiritual food to endure.
7 Nourish your faith with spiritual food. On Mount Everest, the world’s tallest mountain, a climber burns about 6,000 calories a day, considerably more than the average person needs. To endure the ascent and reach their goal, climbers must consume as many calories as possible. Similarly, to endure in our Christian course and reach our goal, we must regularly take in as much spiritual food as possible. We need self-discipline to devote time to reading, study, and our Christian meetings. These activities nourish our faith with “the food that remains for everlasting life.”—John 6:27.
8. According to Job 2:4, 5, what is involved when we face trials?
8 Remember the issue of integrity. When a servant of Jehovah faces a trial, there is much more at stake than one person’s suffering. By the way we react to our trials, we demonstrate whether we really view Jehovah as the Universal Sovereign. Satan, an enemy of Jehovah’s sovereignty, taunted Jehovah with the words: “A man will give everything that he has for his life. But, for a change, stretch out your hand and strike [Job’s] bone and flesh, and he will surely curse you to your very face.” (Job 2:4, 5) According to Satan, no one serves Jehovah out of unselfish love. Has Satan changed since he made that claim? Not at all! Many centuries later, when he was ousted from heaven, Satan was still called “the accuser of our brothers . . . , who accuses them day and night before our God!” (Rev. 12:10) Satan has not forgotten the issue of integrity. He is eager to see us surrender to our trial and withdraw our support of God’s sovereignty.
9. When you face trials, what invisible scene might you imagine?
9 When you struggle with adversity, therefore, imagine this invisible scene. Satan and his demonic followers are on one side, pointing to your struggles and alleging that you will buckle under the pressure and give up. On the other side are Jehovah, his reigning Son, the resurrected anointed ones, and myriads of angels. They are cheering you on, delighted by your daily endurance and support of Jehovah’s sovereignty. You can take personally Jehovah’s inspired request: “Be wise, my son, and make my heart rejoice, so that I can make a reply to him who taunts me.”—Prov. 27:11.
10. How can you imitate Jesus in focusing on the rewards of endurance?
10 Focus on the rewards of endurance. Suppose that while traveling on a lengthy journey, you stop in the middle of a long tunnel. Everywhere you look, it is dark. Nevertheless, you are confident that if you keep traveling toward the end of the tunnel, you will again see light. Similarly, you may at times feel overwhelmed by the problems you face. Even Jesus could have felt that way. He was the target of “hostile speech from sinners,” humiliation, and even painful execution on “a torture stake”—surely the darkest period of his life on earth! Yet, Jesus endured it all “for the joy that was set before him.” (Heb. 12:2, 3) He focused on the rewards of his endurance, particularly his contribution to the sanctification of God’s name and the vindication of Jehovah’s sovereignty. The darkness of Jesus’ trials was temporary, but the brilliance of his heavenly reward would be everlasting. Today, the trials you face may be painful and even crushing. But remember that your tribulations on the road to eternal life are temporary.
“THOSE WHO HAVE ENDURED”
11. Why should we consider the experiences of “those who have endured”?
11 We do not have to endure alone. To encourage Christians to endure the hardships heaped on them by Satan, the apostle Peter wrote: “Take your stand against him, firm in the faith, knowing that the same kind of sufferings are being experienced by the entire association of your brothers in the world.” (1 Pet. 5:9) The experiences of “those who have endured” teach us how to remain steadfast, reassure us that we can succeed, and remind us that our faithful course will be rewarded. (Jas. 5:11) Let us consider a few examples. You will also find it encouraging to review the endurance of God’s people in modern times.
12. What do we learn from the example of the cherubs posted at Eden?
12 The cherubs. The example set by some of the first spirit creatures to appear to humans can teach us to endure in a difficult assignment. Jehovah God “posted at the east of the garden of Eden the cherubs and the flaming blade of a sword that was turning continuously to guard the way to the tree of life.” (Gen. 3:24) The Bible does not say how many cherubs were assigned to this taskSurely those cherubs were not originally created for this assignment! After all, sin and rebellion were not part of Jehovah’s purpose for mankind. Yet, nowhere do we read that the cherubs—spirit creatures of high rank—complained that they were overqualified for this task. They did not become bored and give up. Rather, they obediently stuck to their assignment and endured until their work was completed—perhaps at the time of the Flood, over 1,600 years later!
13. How was Job able to endure his trials?
13 The patriarch Job. If you are crushed by the discouraging words of a friend or family member, are plagued by a serious illness, or are grieved by the death of a loved one, you can find comfort in the example of Job. (Job 1:18, 19; 2:7, 9; 19:1-3) Although he was unaware of the source of his troubles, Job did not give up in despair. Why not? For one thing, “he feared God.” (Job 1:1) Job was determined to please Jehovah in favorable and unfavorable circumstances. With God’s help, Job reflected on the wondrous things Jehovah had already accomplished by means of His holy spirit. Job became even more confident that Jehovah would end his trials at the right time. (Job 42:1, 2) And that is precisely what happened. “Jehovah removed Job’s tribulation and restored his prosperity. Jehovah gave him double what he had before.” Job lived “a long and satisfying life.”—Job 42:10, 17.
14. According to 2 Corinthians 1:6, how did the endurance of Paul help others?
14 The apostle Paul. Are you facing bitter opposition, even persecution, from enemies of true worship? Are you a congregation elder or a circuit overseer who feels the weight of your heavy responsibilities? Meditate on the example of Paul. He faced numerous “things of an external kind” by vicious persecutors, and he felt daily pressure on account of his anxiety for the congregations. (2 Cor. 11:23-29) Yet, he refused to give up, and his example strengthened others. (Read 2 Corinthians 1:6.) When you endure hardship, remember that your example is likely encouraging others to endure.
WILL ENDURANCE “COMPLETE ITS WORK” IN YOU?
15, 16. (a) What “work” must endurance complete? (b) Give examples of how we can “let endurance complete its work.”
15 Under inspiration, James wrote: “Let endurance complete its work.” What “work” must endurance complete? It helps us to “be complete and sound in all respects, not lacking in anything.” (Jas. 1:4) Trials often reveal our weaknesses, aspects of our personality that we need to refine. If we endure those trials, however, our Christian personality becomes more complete, or sound. For example, we may become more patient, appreciative, and compassionate.
16 Because endurance completes the vital work of molding us as Christians, do not compromise Scriptural principles to bring an end to tests that come your way. For instance, what if you struggle with unclean thoughts? Rather than give in to temptation, prayerfully reject such desires. You will thus fortify your self-control. Are you facing opposition from an unbelieving family member? Instead of yielding under pressure, be determined to maintain your pattern of wholehearted worship. Consequently, you will strengthen your confidence in Jehovah. Remember: To have God’s approval, we must endure.—Rom. 5:3-5; Jas. 1:12.
17. Illustrate the importance of enduring to the end.
17 We must endure, not for a time, but to the end. To illustrate: Imagine a ship that capsizes. To survive, the passengers must swim to shore. The swimmer who gives up only a few yards from shore faces the same fate as the swimmer who gave up much earlier. Similarly, we are determined to endure until we reach the new world. Our life depends on our enduring. We have an attitude like that of the apostle Paul, who twice stated: “We do not give up.”—2 Cor. 4:1, 16.
18. As we get closer to the end, what confidence can we have?
18 We can be absolutely confident that Jehovah will help us endure to the end. We share Paul’s conviction as expressed at Romans 8:37-39: “We are coming off completely victorious through the one who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life nor angels nor governments nor things now here nor things to come nor powers nor height nor depth nor any other creation will be able to separate us from God’s love that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” True, at times we will get tired. But may we endure to the end, so that it may be said of us as it was said of Gideon and his men: “They kept up the pursuit.”—Judg. 8:4.