Devotional: Savlanut (endurance)
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance (savlanut). And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. – James 1:2-4
There are times in each of our lives when God calls us to wait and to be patient. I don’t like to wait. One of the first times I ever remember waiting was when I had to wear braces. The orthodontist kept telling me to come back every two weeks…every two weeks, and that happened about six times. They kept telling me that the next time I might get my braces off. I would get my hopes up and then they would tell me two more weeks! I still had to wait. One of the Top Ten experiences of my life, as I recall, was when I finally got my braces off and I could feel my teeth again!
Not only are we called to wait but we are called to wait patiently. The Hebrew word for patience is SAVLANUT. In addition to the meaning designated as patience, this word also means to endure and to wait patiently with expectation and hope. Coupled with waiting patiently, savlanut also involves suffering. It is one thing to wait patiently when you are going on a vacation, when you’re going to graduate or good things are going to occur. However, when God calls us to endure patiently and suffer when we are hurting, this weighs heavily on our soul. In Psalm 42, two times, the psalmist makes note “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? (vs 5, 11) Our soul does despair when we are called to suffer and wait. All of us want instant answers and instant gratification. However, there is a mystery in the waiting because our character is transformed through the waiting and through the suffering. We come to salvation immediately and yet God brings forth salvation throughout our entire life. This is a slow process and often a painful process. We want answers immediately. Sometimes we get answers immediately. However, for the most part, answers come slowly. We want the external answers immediately and yet God is more intent on making sure that the inner transformation of Messiah-likeness takes place within us. Do I listen for God as I’m going through these painful times of being conformed? God is not interested in me being comfortable. God is interested in me being conformable to the cross.
“Therefore, since we also have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let’s rid ourselves of every obstacle and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let’s run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking only at Yeshua Jesus, the originator and perfecter of the faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”(Hebrews 12:1-3) I am so grateful that we have Yeshua Jesus upon whom to focus as we are going through times of suffering, times of savlanut, of enduring patiently. One of the most painful journeys I recall was having surgery on my foot. It was some time before my mother could get me the pain medicine. The only thing that helped me to endure the pain immediately after surgery was thinking about the nails that went through the feet of Jesus.
I am grateful for this additional verse in the 12th chapter of Hebrews, verse four “For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” The key is to keep our eyes on Jesus and trust that God will bring us through victoriously. God has His own process of refining our faith. One of my favorite classes in college was floriculture and a key element of successful plant growth was pruning. Although pruning hurts, God is interested in the final result. He is interested in developing the fruits of the spirit within us – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control. These are inner qualities. Even though I can find myself downcast and sad as the psalmist in Psalm 42 makes note, we are exhorted to put our hope and our trust in God, the help of our countenance. “Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.” (Psalm 42:11)
Keep looking up!