The very anticipation of catastrophic world events on top of everyday personal trials can be so overwhelming that at times it may feel like life is just too painful to even go on. Have you ever felt that way? Jeremiah did. In the Old Testament, without all the benefits and blessings we have in this church age, he lived through a life in shambles, friends all dead, and the stench of destruction all around everything he held dear—yet he lived in hope. How can that be?
True children of God endure under affliction. The Greek word for endure, hupomeno, is a very interesting word. In fact, I want to give you the privilege of sharing in one of the most spectacular things that I like to do through the Bible: see the annologia scriptura—the analogy of the Scripture as one Scripture explains another Scripture, and it all fits together like a beautiful woven tapestry.
Consider this association: The word meno, which is used all through John 15, means “to abide.” In the Greek language, putting a preposition that amplifies, like hupo, in front of a verb like meno, gives this meaning: “to abide under something.” It means “to abide when you’re being squashed, when you’re being pressed, to super-abide when things are not the way that you wanted them, or expected, or hoped them to be.”
Endure (hupomeno) is used only eighteen times in the New Testament, and it is used to describe a genuine believer’s response to dreadful and fearsome times, such as when the world is falling apart, as Matthew 24 describes. Some may wonder what “enduring under affliction” means. Let’s follow this beautifully illustrated trail through the New Testament to find out:
Mark 13:13: This verse is a parallel to Matthew 24: it is from the same sermon, the same context, and the same event when Jesus is speaking the Olivet Discourse. The thirteenth verse of both chapters is identical. The verse reflects the response of a true believer, one who endures or abides in Christ under trials.
I am often asked: Are Christians going to go through the Great Tribulation? We will not be attacked and stung by all the horrific demon hoards from the pit that opens in Revelation 9. However, we will all experience thlipsis, which is the word for Tribulation that pictures something being squashed. If you’ve ever gotten your hand painfully shut in a door, you could say that it was thlipsised, or squashed by incredible pressure. That is what Tribulation is, and when we are undergoing incredible pressures we are to rejoice in hope, and abide faithfully (hupomeno), regardless of the situation (Romans 12:12).
Our American mentality thinks that because we are going to be in the Rapture, we’re going to miss all suffering. We will miss the Great Tribulation, but we are not going to miss the tribulation shaping up in our world that is hostile to the gospel. The Muslim faith is committed to opposing everything we believe, and Satan is seeking to erase us from this planet. So we all need to hupomeno—to abide faithfully in difficulties with enduring hope as we continue steadfastly in prayer.
To prevent becoming weary and discouraged in our own trials, we need to consider all that Jesus went through for us. He was both 100 percent God and 100 percent human. In His humanity, God’s grace was sufficient for Him, just as it is for us. One of the things we must endure is God’s chastening of sin in our lives, which is an evidence of salvation. God hates sin, so He says: “I will punish it. I will not allow you to continue in unrepentant sin. If you endure the chastening by abiding in Me until I’ve finished what I want to accomplish in you, that is a sign you’re My child.” If you don’t endure God’s correction, are never chastened, and habitually choose to run toward sin rather than flee from it, that is a sign you may not belong to Christ.
So regardless of what you face this week, this month, or this year, grab hold of God’s overflowing hope. Let Him weave your weaknesses, like fragile fibers, in with the countless strands of His promises in the Scriptures to stretch and twist you into waiting hope. And then, when troubles increase, let Him bring you a fresh portion of His hope and goodness as you wait, and enduringly find hope in Christ!