“May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ.” (2 Thessalonians 3:5 NLT)
Endurance: the ability to withstand hardship and to continue on, despite fatigue, stress, or other adversities. It is a quality we may not often consider and one we may not desire to develop, but it is one that is absolutely necessary in the life of a saint.
Why? Because His ways are not ours. “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.’” (Isaiah 55:8-9 NASB)
“My way” would be the way of least resistance. The shortest, most direct route. The way that does not require endurance. That is not always the Lord’s way, however.
After the final plague took place in Egypt and the Lord delivered His children by His mighty hand, we might be surprised to read, “When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land.” (Exodus 13:17 NLT)
Wasn’t it His plan to deliver them? Wasn’t it His plan to lead them to the Promised Land? Yes, but it was also His plan to lead them along the longer route to get there! Why? Because He knew: He knew His children, He knew their tendency, He knew what would have awaited them had they gone the shorter route, and He knew His ultimate purpose. You see, Exodus 13:17 continues, “God said, ‘If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.’” Knowing if they had gone the shorter way they would have faced war, changed their minds, and returned to the place He lovingly and powerfully delivered them from, He knew the best way to lead them.
Does He not know the same for us?
When we are on the seemingly longer path, walking in what feels like a roundabout way, when it doesn’t make sense, remember: it is not a haphazard path. It’s a purposeful one.
Similarly, “my way” of choice would be the one with the fastest results and the least amount of waiting, which again, requires no endurance on my part. Again, however, we must consider this is not always the Lord’s way. In detailing the conquest of the land, the Lord said to the children of Israel, “See, I am sending an angel before you to protect you on your journey and lead you safely to the place I have prepared for you…if you are careful to obey him, following all my instructions, then I will be an enemy to your enemies…For my angel will go before you and bring you into the land of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites, and Jebusites, so you may live there. And I will destroy them completely.” (Exodus 23:20,22-23 NLT) Then, however, comes a “but.” “But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals would multiply and threaten you. I will drive them out a little at a time until your population has increased enough to take possession of the land.” (Exodus 23:29-30 NLT)
Again, we see it was His plan to destroy the enemies of the land. He said He would do it! It would not be done all at once, however, but rather little by little. How and when He would do it would surely not have been how I would have anticipated Him to work. I am reminded again that He knows. He knows when the faster way is not the better way. He knows when the longer and slower way is better not only for His beloved children’s survival, but even more importantly, for their shaping. Through His leading and their enduring, these instances were meant to be part of their divine making, to shape them into a people for His glory, a people who would learn to trust, obey, and depend upon Him. Is that not the goal for us, too, when He calls us into a season which requires endurance?
Both of these examples cause me to humbly affirm how little I know, how little I see, and how little I understand in comparison to His perfect knowledge, viewpoint, and understanding. As women who long for His way, His heart, and His purpose, may we be encouraged that when the going is slow and the road before us is long: He knows. We can trust Him. We must trust Him. We must endure, despite the hardships, fatigue, and temptation to believe He has abandoned or forgotten us. He has not. He simply knows what we do not. Max Lucado put it this way, “God is God. He knows what He is doing. When you can’t trace His hand, trust His heart.”
When endurance wanes, it is usually because we misinterpret the inability to trace His hand. How shortsighted! How mistaken! He knows. He knows best. He knows how. He knows when. He knows why. May that be enough for us! May we respond to David’s declaration to “trust in Him at all times” (Psalm 62:8) with a resounding yes! Yes, we will trust Him when the way is long! We will trust Him when the results are slow! We will trust that His way is higher! We will trust “His way is perfect” (Psalm 18:30) and therefore, by the grace of God, we will endure!