Aug. 3, 2009
“For she (Naomi) had heard in Moab how the Lord had visited His people in giving them food.”
Ruth 1: 6
“Don’t Quit…Don’t Cave In”
Endurance: “The power, quality and act of withstanding and persevering for the duration.”
“By your endurance you will gain your lives.”
What specific challenge in my life has and is teaching me the quality of endurance?
“When you get to the end of your rope – tie a knot in it and hang on.”
“There is often in people to whom “the worst” has happened an almost transcendent freedom, for they have faced “the worst” and survived it.”
It was the second week after I had been transferred to a Rehabilitation Hospital that Jim and I were going to call home for six weeks, that I had a partial meltdown. I was in the Activity Room with nearly a dozen other people who were confined to wheelchairs like I was. The occupational therapist I was assigned to was the most cheerful and kind person. His encouragement lifted my spirit and pushed me to keep trying.
However, on this particular day, I was not only trying to deal with the pain from so many fractured bones, I was also confronted with the desperate reality of the situation Jim and I found ourselves in. My therapist put a board in front of me that had spaces shaped like squares and circles. Then he instructed me to pick up the correct items that matched the empty shapes and insert them into the holes. Try as I might, my shaking hands and frozen fractured shoulder and collarbone would not cooperate. All of a sudden, tears began to pour down my cheeks like Niagara Falls. I was so filled with despair I can’t even begin to explain it. Seeing my frustration and desperation, my therapist wheeled me into an office across the hall where he sat down beside my wheelchair and in a quiet and calm voice explained that with the massive trauma I had sustained, I couldn’t expect an overnight cure. And then he repeated words I will never forget. “Your recovery, Dorothy, isn’t a sprint – it’s a constant step-by-step process. It’s one foot in front of the other. It’s never giving up.”
I won’t forget how, like the words of Jesus, this practical advice helped to me. In speaking with His disciples about the challenges they would face in life on this earth, Jesus said in Matthew 10: 22, Amplified Bible “But (she) who perseveres and endures to the end will be saved.” I love the way this particular text is paraphrased in The Message Bible, “But don’t quit. Don’t cave in. It is all well worth it in the end. It is not success you are after in such times but survival. Be survivors!”
As I sat weeping in my wheelchair feeling forgotten by God and alone with my problems, something inside of me began to whisper, “I want to survive. Hang on. Don’t give up.” And over the next few weeks, as one step turned to ten and then to fifty, I realized in a very practical way, that those who endure, do overcome. We do survive!
Over the last several days, as I read and reread the story of Naomi, I had a new thought come to my mind and I found this perspective in the words of our text today: Ruth 1: 6. It’s a short phrase: “For she had heard in Moab how the Lord had visited His people.” I absolutely love these words for they describe a woman of endurance. A woman who never gave up. While Naomi was living in Moab, she never, ever forgot her God – her Guide. And she kept listening for her Father’s call. Oh, she could have given up. She could have settled into the Moab way of life, but she didn’t. Naomi survived the move to Moab. She survived the death of her husband and two sons. And all this while, as she was barely surviving, she kept hanging on to her Father’s hand. And one day, He whispered,
“It’s time to go home – there’s bread in Bethlehem, again.”
St. Augustine correctly viewed the challenge of endurance when he wrote that it isn’t normal for humans like you and me to wish for hardship and difficulty. I’ll include my hearty agreement with this sentiment. But he also noted that Jesus, “commanded us to endure these troubles, not to love them.” I’d like to add to this thought, the inspiring words of William Barclay. “Endurance is not just the ability to bear a hard thing, but to turn it into glory.” I live every day of my life knowing this statement to be true. For I have a Father who promises me that if I hang on to Him, through the troubles, through the despair, through the pain and through the heartache – He’ll take me back to the House of Bread where He has a feast prepared especially for me. All He asks me to do is: “Don’t quit. Don’t cave in …be a survivor!”
“Nothing great was ever done without much enduring.”
Catherine of Siena
“We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do;… God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken…while we’re going through the worst, you’re getting in on the best!...So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without His unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.”
II Corinthians 4: 8-18
The Message Bible
“Take a step,
Put one foot
In front of
The other foot.
It is so hard to lift
Feel bone and balance shift.
To walk at all
Is just a series of arrested falls.
Do not fall.
In front of
The other foot,
Mrs. Anna Tessaro
(This poem/prayer was written a year after the author, Anna Tessaro smashed her right knee cap and had to learn to walk again.)
“The life of faith is not a life of mounting up with wings, but a life of walking and not fainting.”
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