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Effective Endurance

And let endurance have its perfect effect, so that you will be perfect and complete. [James 1:4 NET]

Allowing our faith to be tested develops spiritual endurance. And endurance holds spiritual benefits, enabling us to become whole and complete. But do we value endurance including its marathon process of becoming complete?

If you’re distracted by the word perfect twice in one sentence, I am too. It’s a loaded word with various meanings to be attached but I don’t think the cultural context here is one bogged down by modern perfectionism, namely endless striving and self loathing over failed performance. I have not done a complete word study but it seems perfect in scripture typically has positive connotations. A friendlier word might be excellent or ideally or even wholehearted. Versus say flawless and absolute. But alas James or the translators picked perfect and it’s okay to have your history and issues with certain words. If you’re a recovering perfectionist, this is not a call to return to your old ways. I digress.

Anyways. Back to endurance. Endurance is a marathon in parenting or homeschooling or singleness or sticking it out in your complicated marriage. But deeper than all the situations and triggers lies your faith or belief system, the place where all your doubts and fears and questions land, sometimes over and over again.

Am I doing the right thing? Am I good enough to…? Will I ever…? How will I survive if xyz never changes? Endurance means making space for painful questions, giving voice to doubt and fear without allowing them to swallow you whole. Endurance also stays the course regardless of the time it takes to get there. Obviously there are situations where it’s foolish to simply endure, so you must decide which path would be most honoring to yourself and your faith. I don’t think James is saying that you can’t make changes or say no or set boundaries or even end things. Life requires a shameless commitment to quitting and sticking it out.

I think the point is that regardless of external circumstances or choices, yielding to endurance means staying true to yourself and your faith. This may look like quitting to some and that’s okay too. You know who you are, what you believe and where you will go. And if not, endurance will help you discover these things.

Effectively enduring whatever circumstance challenges my confidence allows me to be complete as a person. Note it does not say become complete. Also note that perfectly enduring does not mean your circumstances or situations will work themselves out or even make sense. But you will be complete. Because regardless of the obstacles involved, you will remain true to your hope, assurance and confidence.

So how do we make space for endurance to accomplish all that it promises? Perhaps it’s a shift from problem solving the situation or knocking against the resistance to asking yourself what doubts and questions your obstacle brings to light. If I pause and am honest with myself, my questions will help me discover something new or sit with my pain or shine light into a dark place. Effective endurance means sticking with yourself when seemingly no one else will. You’ll be more whole and complete that way 🙂

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I am journaling through the book of James. I’d love to hear your thoughts or comments so chime in when you feel like it.

2 Replies

  1. jC

    Please keep posting. Enjoying these (not a very helpful comment when considering James) but I appreciate these posts.

    1. Astrid Melton

      Thanks! It’s fun to have a theme and no pressure to comment! I am still trying to figure out how to have an effective online conversation.

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