Endurance is often defined by one's ability to hold out without giving into some impairment or difficulty. In "undergoing" some stress, you are able to come out the other side still standing. Over the course of my life, I have learned not everything we "undergo" is designed to leave us "standing" - sometimes we need to be in a place which displays a different type of "strength" than being able to "stand". In other words, sometimes the "strongest" place we find ourselves is in admitting our weakest place within! There is something which comes in the times of "trouble" in our lives which has a way of revealing these "weak" spots - and I think God may have just designed the thing we "undergo" to reveal that "spot" so he might help us with that weakness.
My friends, be glad, even if you have a lot of trouble. You know that you learn to endure by having your faith tested. But you must learn to endure everything, so that you will be completely mature and not lacking in anything. (James 1:2-4 CEV)
Since most think of endurance as the ability to push beyond the "weak spots" in life, it stands to reason we will attempt to "get beyond" whatever it is we are "undergoing" by whatever inner strength we can muster on our own. We think we can somehow avoid coming face-to-face with the weakness we are trying so hard to ignore. Guess what - no matter how hard we try to ignore a weak area, eventually the stress put against that weak area will cause that area to be exposed! Don't believe me - try blowing up a balloon until you think it is at capacity. Then put a little more air, then a little more, until you begin to see the latex in that balloon stretch to reveal those tiny areas, now stretched to capacity, where you can almost see yourself through them. While the balloon was only half-inflated those weak areas were not all that visible. With a little more "air" in the balloon, stretching it to a new capacity, those areas of weakness become more and more apparent. Deny they are there all you want, but those tiny areas now become quite translucent and imminently ready to pop!
You see, our weaknesses have a way of being discovered - not so much in the times when all is going so perfect for us, but in the times we are "stretched" to what we may feel is "beyond" our capacity to endure any more. Just as the balloon began to reveal those weak spots, we will begin to reveal ours because the trial brings a "translucency" to those areas. What was once unrecognized because it was only a "tiny weakness" now can be revealed for just how big of a portal of "exposure" that weakness creates in our lives. I watched a show the other night on how balloons were made. Of every twenty balloons, they blow up one or two from the batch to ensure they will hold air - no flaws "too big" to cause them to not be stretched to what is the "desired capacity". Now, at first, this seemed like adequate "quality assurance", but that left 18-19 other balloons in the package which were never tested! Sure, one or two were proven strong enough to stretch to capacity - but what about the others? You know how they get tested? When you and I actually need to use them in our lives!
Most of the testing we undergo is not "in the factory time" - those moments when we are alone with God and he kind of has us under the "microscope" in the quietness of our personal time with him. Nope - the majority of the testing we undergo is in right smack in the middle of living life. Yep, one or two of our "balloons" were tested in the "alone time" with Jesus, but the other eighteen will be tested when the demands are placed upon us in the regular living of life. Keeping in mind what I have already said, those times of "stretching" soon reveal the areas not previously recognized where we need God's help to replace our weakness with his strength. What the stretching does for us is bring evidence we are not as strong as we might have suggested we were! In fact, we begin to realize we not only have one weak area, but multiple! This is were the opportunity comes for most of us to attempt to conceal the weak area(s). We somehow think if we just "turn the balloon" around so no one sees the "stretched" area, no one will know it is there and we will escape the scrutiny of having that area "exposed".
Think again! Before long, a little more air will fill the "balloon" we know is at the "riskiest" place in terms of capacity to take anymore of the stretching. Even if no more air is pumped in - no more "capacity" is demanded - those weak areas make it even harder for the "balloon" to "remain filled"! Knock the balloon around a couple of times and those weak areas begin to feel a new type of stress - although their "internal capacity" was managed, their external pressures are not! This is how it is in life - we might get a handle on the internal pressures, effectively "shutting off" anything else trying to come "in" - but we cannot control all the things coming at us which knock us around a little on the outside! Either way, we soon realize if we don't ask God's help to deal with those weak areas, we are about to "pop"! Knowing what we know about balloons, what happens when they "pop"? Do they have "capacity" any longer to function as they were designed? Nope! In fact, their "pieces" are scattered, they're left stretched out, and all that remains is "remnants" of the former. This is kind of like what happens to us when we don't recognize our areas of weakness, or do our best to simply ignore them - we are left with remnants!
I don't know about you, but instead of "proving" I can endure, successfully cut of the flow of what gets inside, and then cleverly manipulating to "cover up" the weaknesses inherent in my character, I am choosing to have God test all the "balloons" in my package! Just sayin!
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