“Let endurance complete its work, so that you may be complete and sound in all respects, not lacking in anything.”—JAMES 1:4.
1, 2. (a) What can we learn from the endurance of Gideon and his 300 men? (See opening picture.) (b) According to Luke 21:19, why is endurance so important?
TRY to imagine the difficult and tiring battle between the Israelite soldiers, led by Judge Gideon, and their enemies. Gideon and his men chased the Midianites and their allies all night long for about 32 kilometers (20 miles)! The Bible tells us what happened next: “Gideon then came to the Jordan and crossed it. He and the 300 men with him were tired.” But they had not yet won the war, and they still had to fight 15,000 soldiers. These enemies had oppressed them for years, so the Israelites could not give up. Therefore, Gideon and his men kept chasing their enemies and finally defeated them!—Judges 7:22; 8:4, 10, 28.
2 We too are fighting a difficult and tiring battle. Our enemies include Satan, his world, and our own imperfections. Some of us have been fighting these enemies for many years. With Jehovah’s help, we have won many battles. However, we have not yet won the final victory. Sometimes we may get tired of fighting. Or we may get tired of waiting for the end of this wicked system. Jesus warned that we would have severe trials and cruel persecution during the last days. But he also said that if we endure, we can win. (Read Luke 21:19.) What is endurance? What will help us to endure? What can we learn from those who have endured? And how can we “let endurance complete its work”?—James 1:4.
WHAT IS ENDURANCE?
3. What is endurance?
3 In the Bible, endurance means more than simply putting up with, or tolerating, a difficult situation. It involves the way we think and feel about our trials. Endurance helps us to be courageous, faithful, and patient. One reference book says that endurance is a quality that helps us to have strong hope and to avoid giving up when we have trials. It helps us to remain firm and unmovable even during the worst trials. And it allows us to turn those trials into victories and to focus on our goal, not on our pain.
4. Why can we say that endurance is motivated by love?
4 Love motivates us to endure. (Read 1 Corinthians 13:4, 7.) In what areas? Love for Jehovah motivates us to endure anything that he allows. (Luke 22:41, 42) Love for our brothers helps us to endure their imperfections. (1 Peter 4:8) Love for our marriage mate helps us to endure “tribulation” that even happily married couples have and helps strengthen our marriage.—1 Corinthians 7:28.
WHAT WILL HELP YOU TO ENDURE?
5. Why is Jehovah the best one to help us endure?
5 Ask Jehovah for strength. Jehovah is “the God who supplies endurance and comfort.” (Romans 15:5) He is the only one who fully understands our situation, our feelings, and our background. So he knows exactly what we need in order to endure. The Bible says: “He satisfies the desire of those who fear him; he hears their cry for help, and he rescues them.” (Psalm 145:19) But how will God answer our prayers for strength to endure?
Jehovah, who fully understands us, knows exactly what we need in order to endure
6. As promised in the Bible, how may Jehovah “make the way out” of trials for us?
6 When we ask Jehovah to help us endure, he promises to “make the way out.” (Read 1 Corinthians 10:13.) How does he do that? At times, he may remove the trial. But in most cases, he will give us strength so that we “may endure fully with patience and joy.” (Colossians 1:11) And because he knows our physical, mental, and emotional limits so well, Jehovah will never allow a situation to become so difficult that we cannot remain faithful.
7. Illustrate why we need spiritual food to endure.
7 Let spiritual food strengthen your faith. Why is spiritual food important? To illustrate: To climb Mount Everest, a person needs about 6,000 calories a day. That is much more than the average person needs. To endure and reach his goal, a climber must eat as many calories as possible. In a similar way, we need plenty of spiritual food to endure and to reach our goal. We must be determined to spend time in personal study and at our meetings. These activities will give us what we need to keep our faith strong.—John 6:27.
8, 9. (a) According to Job 2:4, 5, what is involved when we face trials? (b) When you face trials, what invisible scene might you imagine?
8 Remember your loyalty to God. When we have trials, there is more involved than our suffering. Our loyalty to God is being tested. How we react to a trial shows whether we view Jehovah as the true Ruler of the universe. How is that so? Satan, an enemy of God who opposes his rule, insulted Jehovah by saying that humans serve God only for selfish reasons. Satan said: “A man will give everything that he has for his life.” Satan then said about Job: “But, for a change, stretch out your hand and strike his bone and flesh, and he will surely curse you to your very face.” (Job 2:4, 5) Has Satan changed since he made that claim? Not at all! Many years later, when Satan was thrown out of heaven, he was still accusing God’s faithful servants constantly. (Revelation 12:10) Today, Satan still claims that humans worship God for selfish reasons. He is eager to see us reject God’s right to rule and stop serving Him.
9 When you are suffering during a trial, try to imagine this invisible scene. Satan and the demons are on one side. They are watching to see what you will do and claiming that you will give up. On the other side are Jehovah, our King Jesus Christ, the anointed who have been resurrected, and thousands of angels. They also see your struggle, but they are cheering you on! They are happy to see that you are able to endure and remain loyal to Jehovah. And then you hear Jehovah telling you: “Be wise, my son, and make my heart rejoice, so that I can make a reply to him who taunts me.”—Proverbs 27:11.
Jesus focused on the rewards of his endurance
10. How can you imitate Jesus in focusing on the rewards of endurance?
10 Focus on the rewards. Imagine that you are traveling on a journey. Along the way, you must go through a long tunnel. Everywhere you look, it is dark. But you know that if you keep traveling toward the end of the tunnel, you will again see light. Life can be like that journey. You may have to go through very difficult times, and you may feel overwhelmed by your problems. Even Jesus could have felt that way. When he was being executed on the torture stake, he was humiliated and in a lot of pain. This must have been the most difficult time in his life! What helped him endure? The Bible says that he looked at “the joy that was set before him.” (Hebrews 12:2, 3) Jesus focused on the rewards of his endurance, most important, that he would have a part in sanctifying God’s name and supporting his right to rule. He knew that the trial was temporary and that his reward in heaven would last forever. Today, the trials that you face may be overwhelming and painful, but remember that they are only temporary.
“THOSE WHO HAVE ENDURED”
11. Why should we consider the experiences of “those who have endured”?
11 We do not have to endure alone. To encourage Christians to endure the many trials from Satan, the apostle Peter wrote: “Take your stand against him, firm in the faith, knowing that the same kind of sufferings are being experienced by the entire association of your brothers in the world.” (1 Peter 5:9) The experiences of “those who have endured” teach us how to remain faithful, reassure us that we can succeed, and remind us that our loyalty will be rewarded. (James 5:11) Let us consider a few examples.—See endnote.
12. What do we learn from the example of the cherubs posted at Eden?
12 The cherubs are angels of high rank. After Adam and Eve sinned, Jehovah gave some of the cherubs a new assignment on the earth. It was very different from the one they had in heaven. Their example can teach us how to endure when we have a difficult assignment. The Bible says that Jehovah “posted at the east of the garden of Eden the cherubs and the flaming blade of a sword that was turning continuously to guard the way to the tree of life.” (See endnote.) (Genesis 3:24) The Bible does not say that the cherubs complained or felt that they were too important for their new assignment. They did not get bored or give up. Instead, they stayed in their assignment until their work was done, perhaps at the time of the Flood, over 1,600 years later!
13. How was Job able to endure his trials?
13 The faithful man Job. Sometimes you may feel hurt because a friend or a family member said something discouraging. Or maybe you are seriously sick or are suffering because someone you love died. Yet no matter what happens, you can find comfort in the example of Job. (Job 1:18, 19; 2:7, 9; 19:1-3) Job did not know why he was suddenly suffering so many trials, but he never gave up. What helped him endure? First of all, he loved Jehovah and feared displeasing him. (Job 1:1) Job wanted to please God in good times and in bad times. In addition, Jehovah helped Job to see His power by telling him about some of the amazing things He created. This convinced Job even more that Jehovah would end his trials at the right time. (Job 42:1, 2) And that is what happened. “Jehovah removed Job’s tribulation and restored his prosperity. Jehovah gave him double what he had before.” Job lived “a long and satisfying life.”—Job 42:10, 17.
14. According to 2 Corinthians 1:6, how did the endurance of Paul help others?
14 The apostle Paul. Are you suffering bitter opposition or even persecution? Are you a congregation elder or a circuit overseer who feels overwhelmed by your many responsibilities? If so, the example of Paul can help you. Paul suffered brutal persecution, and he was always worried about the brothers in the congregations. (2 Corinthians 11:23-29) But Paul never gave up, and his example strengthened others. (Read 2 Corinthians 1:6.) Your endurance can likewise encourage others to endure.
WILL ENDURANCE “COMPLETE ITS WORK” IN YOU?
15, 16. (a) What “work” must endurance complete? (b) Give examples of how we can “let endurance complete its work.”
15 The disciple James was inspired to write: “Let endurance complete its work, so that you may be complete and sound in all respects, not lacking in anything.” (James 1:4) How can endurance complete its “work” in us? When we go through a trial, we may notice that we need to be more patient, appreciative, or loving. As we endure the trial, we will learn to show these qualities even more, and in that way we will improve our Christian personality.
16 Because endurance can make us better Christians, we would not want to break Jehovah’s law just to end our trial. For example, if you struggle with immoral thoughts, do not give in to temptation! Ask Jehovah to help you reject the wrong thoughts. Do you have a family member who is opposing you? Do not give up! Be determined to continue serving Jehovah. As a result, you will strengthen your confidence in Jehovah. Remember: To have God’s approval, we must endure.—Romans 5:3-5; James 1:12.
17, 18. (a) Illustrate the importance of enduring to the end. (b) As we get closer to the end, what confidence can we have?
17 We must endure, not just for a period of time, but to the end. Imagine a ship that is sinking. To survive, the passengers must swim all the way to the shore. The person who gives up when he starts to swim will drown. Similarly, the person who gives up just before he reaches the shore will also drown. If we want to live in the new world, we need to keep enduring. Let us have the same attitude as the apostle Paul, who said: “We do not give up.”—2 Corinthians 4:1, 16.
18 Like Paul, we are absolutely convinced that Jehovah will help us endure to the end. Paul wrote: “We are coming off completely victorious through the one who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life nor angels nor governments nor things now here nor things to come nor powers nor height nor depth nor any other creation will be able to separate us from God’s love that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:37-39) It is true that sometimes we will get tired. But let us imitate Gideon and his men. They got tired, but they did not give up. “They kept up the pursuit”!—Judges 8:4.
^  (paragraph 11) You will also find it encouraging to review the endurance of God’s people in modern times. For example, the Yearbooks of 1992, 1999, and 2008 include encouraging reports of our brothers in Ethiopia, Malawi, and Russia.
^  (paragraph 12) The Bible does not say how many cherubs were assigned to this task.