Finding the strength to endure

By Denae Jones –

Endurance.  It’s defined as “The power of enduring an unpleasant or difficult process or situation without giving way: the ability or strength to continue or last, especially despite fatigue, stress, or other adverse conditions.”
Over the course of a lifetime, we are called to endure a variety of different trials, on various levels of difficulty.  Maybe you are in chronic pain, or have to watch someone you love be in pain every day and don’t know how to help them.  Maybe you are in a bad relationship, or your marriage is falling apart and nothing you try seems to make it better.  Maybe you are a parent who has had to watch your child make terrible mistakes and you struggle with how to turn them back around.   Maybe you have been abused or lived through a tragedy and you can’t turn off the video in your head that keeps playing it back on repeat.  Repeat.  Repeat.
If we go back to that definition of endurance, we know it’s difficult enough to live through trials, but to find out how to do it ‘without giving way’ is the hard part.  How do we not give way to fear or anxiety?  How do we not give way to lose our temper and walk out?  How do we not give way to the voices that tell us to give up because we can’t do it?  How do we not give way to the idea that we are the sum of our own mistakes? How do we find the strength to endure?
There is a man named Dick Hoyt who is a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the Air National Guard.  His son Rick was born with cerebral palsy.  Rick wanted to compete in a 5 mile benefit race, but his body had obvious limitations. His father decided that he would be Rick’s arms and legs, and entered them in that race as a team.  Rick said that when his father pushed him across the finish line in his special wheelchair, it was as if his disability didn’t exist.  What hope Dick had given his son!  And what joy was given back to him, to see his son triumph!  That gave them both the encouragement to race again, and since then they have competed in hundreds of races, including the Iron Man Triathlon. Dick swam while pulling his son in a boat.  He carried him out of the water and put him in a special seat on his bike, where they would bike for miles up hills.  Then he would transport Rick from the bicycle seat to a special wheelchair, and he would run while pushing his son until they crossed the finish line together.  I cannot imagine the amount of endurance it took Dick to complete those races, but he said that his son gave him the strength to go faster.
They won the Perseverance Award at the ESPY’s in 2013.   I think it would be a safe bet to say Rick would tell you his father gave him an award much greater than that.  Rick puts his trust in his father, and his father continues to sacrifice his own body to give his son the BEST life possible.
So how DO we find the strength to endure?  Each of us have to work that out on our own, but I can tell you what helps me.  After struggling with the same thing day after day, week after week, and sometimes year after year, I’ve learned the hard way that I’m not strong enough to endure certain things by myself.  I need someone to remind me that there is hope when I feel like it’s all but gone.  I need someone to be my cheerleader when I feel like I’ve really messed it up for good this time.  Sometimes, I need someone to carry me, or at least push me in the right direction when I don’t have the emotional or physical strength to take another step.  I need someone I can completely trust to help me stay strong until I cross the finish line.  For Rick Hoyt, that person is his father.  For me, many times that person is my husband.  Sometimes it’s my friends. Sometimes it’s my family.  But ALWAYS, 100% of the time, it’s also God.  Once I finally quit being stubborn and quit trying to do it all myself, I can surrender it to Him.  I am given the strength to endure, because it’s beyond my strength.  It’s His strength.  Just like Dick Hoyt, God is a father who knows what it’s like to sacrifice His body so that we can live our best life possible.  “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”  (Philippians 4:13)