What do we mean by endurance? In a world of digital communication, we have become accustomed to instant responses. Sometimes, if we have to wait more than 24 hours, we feel that the response is too slow. In many senses this has spilled over into our church lives as well. We expect immediate replies. We may even come to expect immediate answers to our prayers. Undoubtedly God can act quickly, and sometimes does, but most times He does not. God sometimes wants to teach us endurance. The Gospel reading this week is the story of Jesus sending out the twelve Apostles. They were told to announce to the people that the Kingdom of Heaven is near. They were told not to take any money or any other possessions. No doubt they would have been met with opposition, particularly from the religious leaders of the day. Imagine doing this today in Guildford, it would not always be easy. Perhaps one of the greatest qualities that they (and we) would need is endurance. Just keep going from house to house receiving rejection after rejection until one hospitable home is found.
The ability to endure is one of the hallmarks of the Christian faith. In Genesis, Abraham and Sarah had to wait until old age before they could have a son. That did not stop Abraham from being positive and hospitable to the three men at Mamre. Little did he know that these three men, perhaps representing the Trinity, would inform him that within a year Sarah would have a son. The psalmist writing Psalm 116 knows about endurance when he writes of his troubles and how he will keep praying as long as he draws breath. In Romans, the Apostle Paul explains why God’s plan to teach us endurance is good. Endurance, he writes, develops strength of character. As a result of waiting, Abraham and Sarah greatly cherished God’s gift of Isaac. As a result of enduring rejection from some people, the early Apostles came to rely on God and so grow in their faith. As a result of enduring, we will not be disappointed by God who will use the experience to strengthen our confidence in His plan of salvation for us.
Old Testament reading for this week: Genesis 18:1-15
Gospel reading for this week: Matthew 9:35-10:8
Epistle reading for this week: Romans 5:1-8
Psalm for this week: Psalm 116:1-19