“Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth” (Revelation 3:10).
Through the trials of life, no matter why they come, God calls His people to “patient endurance.” But what does that mean?
Buddy Cannon tells about being on Willie Nelson’s bus in Austin Texas. They were parked at the Austin City Limits theater and people were coming and going to visit with Willie. One of the bus drivers brought a woman on board who was distressed. She sat at the dining table and she and Willie talked – she crying and Willie listening sympathetically. A family member had died and her grief was deep. At one point she said: “I just don’t know how I am ever going to get over this.” And Willie, who never took his eyes off her, replied: “It’s not something you get over . . . but it’s something you’ll get through. A bulb came on in Cannon’s mind and later, he and Willie wrote the song “Something You Get Through” (see the official video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rdtx-pxjX8A).
I love the song and the story behind it. It reminds us: No matter what happens in life, if you live through it, you’ll get through it. My mother called it “putting one foot in front of another.” You just keep on keeping on, plowing ahead no matter how the rough seas rock your boat.
But that’s not the endurance Jesus has in mind in our text. It’s not a “keep on keeping on no matter what” kind of thing. It is “patient” endurance, which speaks to “how” one endures. You keep on keeping on in a spirit of calm and restraint and (yes) confidence – all components of patience.
Because for us it is not just “getting through it.” We have the assurance of the abiding presence of God to shepherd us through our trying times. As Phil Johnson wrote: “He didn’t bring us this far to leave us. He didn’t build His home in us to move away. He didn’t lift us up to let us down.”
Or as an older hymn goes:
I walk with the Savior each step of the way
I trust Him to guide me, by night and by day.
Not dreading tomorrow, nor what it may bring,
I’m safe in the keeping, of Jesus the king.
It’s the difference between just “getting through,” and being victorious.