My friend Lori does not fit the profile for a church treasurer. With gifts that lend themselves more to giving hugs than to writing checks, and with a ready smile that makes her a favorite with all the kids in the school cafeteria where she works every day, she has persevered in faithfulness to all the duties that come with her job description. The way she keeps on looking to Jesus in the midst of the endless tasks is a gift to me.
“Talent can only take you so far,” I admonished my trumpet-playing son. “This set back is teaching you resiliency.” Who even knew that musicians struggled with injury sometimes? Watching a high school senior persevere through auditions and concerts while working to regain lost ground has been a lesson for me in sacred endurance.
Starting with the seed of her own story, Trillia Newbell shares the abundant fruit she has harvested from the spiritual discipline of endurance. Pain in body or mind and angst in the cultural climate require believers to practice a sinewy showing-up and a muscular perseverance that requires supernatural help. Sacred Endurance: Finding Grace and Strength for a Lasting Faith ponders the theological underpinnings of why we can run the race at all, and then delivers a message of hope to keep readers running with our feet on the ground and our eyes on the prize.
Overcoming with the Truth
Perhaps the biggest lie we all have to overcome is the idea that the following life should be easy. This thinking is not supported in the biblical record, and it is poor preparation for the realities of friends who let us down, bodies that fail, and the disappointments that come with church life, parenting, or curating a career. While God promises grace sufficient for every hard decision and every obstacle, the truth is that we have to take that grace consciously and continuously as we run the race set before us.
Newbell digs deep into the canon, ransacking the Apostle Paul’s story for words that run like a river of hope through his own challenging story of shipwreck, imprisonment, and beatings. He came to the end of his life with this hymn of thanksgiving:
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
(2 Timothy 4:7)
If your heart is resonating to the pitch and timbre of Paul’s testimony, Sacred Endurance is an invitation to dig into the spiritual riches that empower a faithful following:
- Don’t go it alone!
We were never designed to run the race of the Christian life solo. We need the faithful wounds of friends, the cheering section of the body of Christ, and the accountability of a life lived in community over the long haul.
- Get up again!
While it’s true that we all stumble in many ways, there’s grace available for picking ourselves up, receiving forgiveness, and living with brokenness while also trusting for ultimate healing–either in this life or in the life to come.
- Look to the prize!
Corrie ten Boom came out on the other end of unthinkable suffering with the truth that “you can never learn that Christ is all you need, until Christ is all you have.” (159) While we sit with the unfinished business of life on a fallen planet, we are given the comfort of preaching the gospel to ourselves, of fighting idolatry with regular doses of truth about what really matters, and of eagerly waiting for the pleasures and the fullness of joy that live in the presence of God.
While we wait for that moment, and as we trust for grace to embody a sacred endurance moment by moment throughout this date on the calendar, let’s share our stories with joy. Let’s war against doubt and discouragement with a borrowed confidence that defies our unbelief and keeps us running by faith as we trust in the carrying mercy of Christ.
Many thanks to InterVarsity Press for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which, of course, is offered freely and with honesty.
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