Some encouragement … and a challenge.
A few weeks ago I had the privilege of doing the keynote at the New Brunswick, Maine Awana Ministry conference. (This post is mostly for teachers, but could also be applied to parenting.)
The verses I was given for my focus were Hebrews 12:1-2: Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
I focused in on the phrase let us run with endurance the race that is set before us because I think a lot of us (including me) assume we’re enduring when actually we’re simply complaining because we don’t get what we want.
See, the word endurance comes from the Greek word HYPOMONE. Hypo means under and mone means abide. When we endure, we are running under the weight of obstacles, suffering, and hard times. We KNOW why we are running because we know the author and finisher of our salvation.
But let’s back up (and again, I am speaking also to myself) what are real obstacles, suffering, and hard times?
A volunteer not showing up?
A toddler having an accident?
A broken computer (right before you were planning on showing a DVD)?
These are annoyances, but we easily change our plans and get through them. We’re not really enduring too much of a hardship.
A few weeks ago, I drove home from Virginia in two days. Because the trip had to be a quick one, I took the tollway. After hundreds of miles of semis and potholes I could easily complain that I was “enduring” the trip.
But I wasn’t really enduring anything. We had plenty of places to stop for iced tea and a pretzel. We had places to get gas or stretch our legs. I was with a friend, so we could chat, listen to podcasts, or music. No, the ride home wasn’t the most fun trip of my life, but at the same time, I wasn’t really “abiding under’ any hardships.
Think what Christ endured.
During His earthly ministry many believed, but many didn’t.
He endured the mocking crowds, the disbelief, the hate.
He endured the cross.
He endured the shame.
He understood His purpose – to do the will of His Father.
He understood the resulting joy and glory.
We read in Philippians 2: Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
The Lord Jesus Christ knew the end result – the gift of salvation to all who believe.
And He’s given us the privilege of passing on that hope to others.
Why is this important?
Look at some statistics …
The Annie E. Casey Foundation Kids Count Profile for Illinois … (You can look up statistics for your own state on the same site.)
26% have parents with no secure employment.
4% live in low income areas and in homes without a working adult.
6% of teens are not in school or working.
7% have been suspended.
From the Teen Rehab Site
23.5% of 10th graders drank alcohol in the last month.
16.6% of 10th graders smoked pot.
Other statistics show …
15% of children are depressed.
25% of kids from 13-18 suffer from anxiety.
Are you getting the picture?
Yes, it’s true many who live in poverty have good families. In act, one statistic showed that an intact family is more important than good education, good health, or an adequate amount of money.
But may families are part of these statistics who aren’t doing well and their kids are in our ministry.
We need to endure (abide under) the weight of dealing with cranky kids, snarky parents and the are-we-making-a-difference moments because we understand the importance of running the race with endurance. We understand the end result and we will not give up –
We understand that not everything will go smoothly.
We understand that kids will behave like kids and not perfect, fictional children.
We understand that we’ll get tired, get headaches, and get busy.
But nothing is more important than looking a child in the eyes and sharing the message of God’s love.
Nothing. We. Must. Endure.