How happy we are when something is all done—the trial is all finished, the work is all completed, sundown has come.
Moving day is not generally looked forward to with joy. I have not heard of anybody that likes to move. But, when the boxes are all unpacked, and we are sitting down with the pictures on the wall, we are tired but happy. It is done.
We can think of people with casts on. Several in my family have had broken bones. And I know that it is a happy day when the bone is healed and the cast is taken off. What a relief, to finally be able to scratch their skin again.
What about labor and delivery? How happy mothers are when the baby is finally in their arms and all the labor pains are over.
How happy the Israelites were when they were finally out of the wilderness and safely in the land of Canaan. They were so pleased to be out of the hot, dirty, sandy desert.
But the best illustration of all happened on resurrection morning. When Jesus came out of the tomb, how happy He was that our salvation was secured, that the horrors of the cross were over.
We love it when the work is done, when the trial is over. We like to be happy. We like the feeling when we have made it through a tough situation, that it is past and over! There is a sense of joy and of well-being once again.
But, often here on this earth, the trial is not over. We are not finished—we are just starting. We often wish we were at the end when we have only begun. You are moving, and it is midnight, you have been carrying boxes all day and you are exhausted and want to go to bed. So you search through boxes to find the sheets for the bed. Unfortunately, someone forgot to mark the contents on the box that had the sheets in it. It seems that there still are hundreds of boxes to look in. You cannot sit down yet, the job is not done. It is now you need endurance.
Or maybe it is 98º outside and under your cast it feels like 110º. Your skin is itching and it is weeks before the cast comes off. You have a long way to go and the way is tough. It is now you need endurance.
There was a time when the Israelites were in the wilderness. It was years before they would be in Canaan. They had to go through the middle of the wilderness. Sometimes you may feel like you are in a hot, dry wilderness, or in an ocean of difficulties. Jesus has promised, “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” Isaiah 43:2. Jesus will always be with you—how we need that today. We need His presence to be with us, because we are not there yet. We still have many mountains to climb.
In the midst of trials we have moments of peace, moments when we feel that for now everything is okay. But trials on this earth come again. We find ourselves in the furnace again and again. We need endurance.
In this article we will look towards the One who knows the most about endurance. “Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2.
The endurance of Jesus was based on the joy that He could see in the future. The future joy was so real to Him that He endured the tortures of Calvary and took no account of the mean remarks made of Him—He despised the shame.
We can learn about this kind of marvelous endurance by looking at various examples. First is the story of a man who did not pass the endurance test. He was a great man. He fought and won many battles with God. He had subdued self and won. But finally, even he was overcome. He got impatient and angry.
Moses ’ Failure
His name is Moses. We have a picture, in the Spirit of Prophecy, of his natural heart: “He was naturally impatient. But he had taken hold firmly of the grace of God and so humbly implored wisdom from heaven that he was strengthened from God and had overcome his impatience so that he was called by God the meekest man upon the face of the whole earth.” Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, 313. How encouraging! Moses was not naturally a patient man, but he had to overcome his natural tendencies.
A sad time came in the life of Moses. He had been putting up with a stiff-necked and rebellious people for forty years. He had long endured their complaining, but he eventually became weary. What one is strong at first to resist, over time starts getting under a person’s skin, becoming difficult to bear. The storm continues to rage, and those that have stood against the apostasy for a long time, get weary. This is the situation that Moses was in. For forty years the people had complained and complained, and he was sick and tired of it. Do you ever get sick and tired of something? Moses did.
The Lord did something very interesting. We need to consider how the Lord deals with people, because sometime, He might deal with us that way.
The Lord had given them water out of the rock for forty years and they had all the water they needed. Just before they were ready to go into the promised land, the water stopped. The Lord wanted to test their endurance to see if it had increased. “The Lord caused the living streams to cease to prove His people again to see if they would endure the trial of their faith or would again murmur against Him.” Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, 309. They were not in danger of dying of thirst. They were going into a country where they could buy water. So the Lord tested His people. He said, “I will stop the water. It’s been flowing for forty years. I will see if they will trust Me.” Oh, how He hoped. (Yes, the Lord has hopes for us.) He hoped His people would trust Him, but they failed the test. They murmured, they complained.
“And the people chode with Moses, and spake, saying, Would God that we had died when our brethren died before the Lord.” Numbers 20:3. They went on to complain about how their cattle were going to die. Then they uttered this most cutting remark, “Would God that we had died with our brethren.” They were talking about when their brethren, who were in direct rebellion against God and Moses, had died in the rebellion of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. The earth opened up and swallowed them alive. These people had the gall to say, “Oh, that we had died with our brethren.” They were really saying that these people, who were in direct rebellion against God, would have treated them better than Moses. Moses was bitterly disappointed. “Disappointment often leads to unbelief.” The Acts of the Apostles, 265. And Moses fell into unbelief. He thought, “Because they complained, the Lord would not let this last generation go into Canaan—all of them are not dead. Now here are their children complaining. Am I going to have to stay out here in this wilderness for many more years?” (See Patriarchs and Prophets, 417, 418.) As Moses started thinking, he became angry with the people. For forty years he had tried to show them the love of God. When they complained he tried to stop it. Here they were at it again.
It is hard to live with contrary people day after day. The record says, “He became weary with the continual murmuring of the people against him.” Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, 310. They were continually murmuring, nagging and contradicting Moses. It was very frustrating to Moses, and by taking his eyes off of God, he made the mistake of taking it personally. Really the people were not murmuring against Moses but against God. Moses forgot that he was hidden under the shadow of God.
Do you ever run out of patience with people? It seems that someone else should be a better Christian. Certainly they know the right thing to do. You have witnessed to them. You have done everything you know. They do not seem to be responding. Sometimes we forget that the work is not ours, but God’s. By taking our eyes off of God, we make the same mistake Moses made—taking it personally.
Here is the story of how Moses gave into his frustrations: “And God said take the rod and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes, and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth unto them water out the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts water to drink.” Numbers 20:8. What was Moses to do? He was to take his rod, but he was not to strike the rock. He was to speak to the rock. He had struck the rock forty years earlier. But the rock was only to be smitten once. That rock represents Jesus, who was smitten once for us. Today, we only need to speak to Him and ask for the water of life. “To every soul, however sinful, Jesus says, If thou hadst asked of me, I would have given thee living water.” The Desire of Ages, 194. That water of life was purchased for us on the cross. Today we can receive it. But when He comes the second time, He will not be smitten again. That is what the Lord wanted to show with this wonderful illustration.
Verse nine says, “And Moses took the rod from before the Lord as He commanded him. And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, ‘Hear now ye rebels, must we fetch you water out of this rock?’ And Moses lifted up his hand and with his rod he smote the rock twice. And the water came out abundantly and the congregation drank, and their beasts also.”
“Here Moses sinned. He became weary with the continual murmuring of the people against him.” Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, 310.
Losing Sight of Our Helper
Where did Moses fail? Did he fail by telling a lie? Although he did not portray the character of Christ correctly, he did not actually lie with his words. When Moses angrily commanded the people: “Hear now ye rebels,” he was telling the truth—they were rebels. Even though what Moses said was the truth, it was offensive to God. “This accusation was true. But even truth is not to be spoken in passion or impatience. When He took it upon himself to accuse them, he grieved the Spirit of God and wrought only harm to the people. His lack of patience and self control was evident.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 417. The whole congregation saw him get mad. They heard the angry tones in his voice. God’s character was misrepresented. Why did Moses fall? “Wearied with the continual murmuring and rebellion of the people, Moses had lost sight of his Almighty Helper.” He took his eyes off of Jesus and looked at people. “It was by looking to themselves”—you can only look in one direction. If you look at people, you will lose sight of God. Even Moses was totally dependent upon the grace of God. “It was by looking to themselves, appealing to their own sympathies, that they unconsciously fell into sin, and failed to set before the people their great guilt before God.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 418, 419. No matter how long you have been a Christian, no matter how many battles in which you have stood firm for truth and righteousness, if you are not looking to Jesus, you will fall. Moses fell, and that is the most perfect example of that point. None of us have gone through what Moses went through. We are certainly not qualified—any of us—to say, “My Christian experience is so good that I’ve arrived now; I won’t fall.” If Moses fell, we can fall too.
I have asked the Lord, “If Moses failed, what about me?” Moses’ sin was very grievous, because he did not have to fall. He dishonored God’s sustaining power. In this instance, even though wicked, the people never received a rebuke from God. Only Moses and Aaron got the rebuke. “God did not on this occasion pronounce judgments upon those whose wicked course had so provoked Moses and Aaron. All the reproof fell on the leaders. Those who stood as God’s representatives had not honored Him.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 418.
No Excuse for Sin
In our world there are people that think it is okay to be impatient if you are tired enough. It is okay to sound harsh if you have had a hard day or have a headache. But God has never permitted that. He did not allow it in Moses and it is not alright today. “If we do not feel just as we want to, are we to fly into impatience, speaking those words that show that we have the attributes of Satan? We cannot afford to speak a harsh word or an unkind word, because we are standing right in view of the heavenly intelligences and we are fighting the battle with all the heavenly universe looking upon us; and how we grieve the heart of God when we deny Him in any way! The marks of the crucifixion in the hands of Christ show that He has graven us upon the palms of His hands.” Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 2, 803, 804.
There will not be one harsh word in heaven. If we are to be there, we must learn here not to speak harsh words. We can be patient no matter how tired, no matter what time it is and we are still moving, or how itchy the cast is, or anything else. There is no circumstance—nothing that can separate us from the sustaining power of God.
Moses did not have to fall. One of the greatest and most powerful promises I have ever found in the Spirit of Prophecy is to clarify this situation of Moses. “God has made ample provision for His people. And if they rely upon His strength, they will never become the sport of circumstances. The strongest temptation cannot excuse sin, however great the pressure brought to bear upon the soul. Transgression is our own act. It is not the power of earth or hell to compel anyone to evil. Satan attacks us at our weak points, but we need not be overcome, however severe or unexpected the trial. God has provided help for us, and in His strength we may conquer.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 421.
Never excuse yourself because of Moses. Moses took his eyes off of God. If Moses would have kept his eye on Jesus and the joy that was set before him, he would have had strength to endure.
The little things in life can draw our thoughts to heaven. Just the other day, I was walking by a field of grass beside my home. The grass was about a foot tall. There was a gentle breeze and it was bright and sunny outside. The grass was gently waving in the wind and sparkled, like diamonds, in the bright sunlight. It was beautiful! Instantly my mind went to this quotation: “I saw a field of tall grass most glorious to behold. It was living green and it had a reflection of silver and gold as it waved proudly to the King Jesus.” Early Writings, 18. I stopped and looked at that beautiful grass, and said, “Lord, I want to be there. I want to be in heaven, and see the grass waving to honor my Lord. I want to stand in heaven and know that I am there; that all temptation is forever gone and I am eternally secure because of you.” It was just a little thing, but the little things in life can remind us of heaven and help us to endure.
Each one of us have trials. We need to get our eyes off of the landscape of the trials of life and fix them on the joys of heaven. That will make the trials of life seem temporary, like they really are. Heaven is forever. Trials are temporary. When we are in the middle of the trial, when we are in the middle of the river, and the current is strong, when people’s hatred against us is so hard to bear, and we hear scoffing remarks that we know are not true, if we get to thinking about it, and take our eyes off Jesus, and start feeling sorry for ourselves—we are ready to fall.
We need to say, “Lord, I’m much weaker than Moses. I’m very weak. Please take my eyes and help me to focus them on you. You have promised that a trial never would come that I could not bear.” That is what He has promised: “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man, but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able, but will with the temptation make a way of escape that ye might be able to bear it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13. It is true. God is faithful.
The Joy Before Him
Jesus was sustained by looking ahead to the joy that was set before Him. “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2.
What was the joy that He looked at? He thought about the joy He would have in the future. He concentrated on this joy. He kept His eye focused on that joy. That is how He endured the cross. And by focusing on the joy ahead of Him, He endured the cross.
Once there was a soldier. After he had fought for months, he was taken captive and put in one of the worst communist concentration camps. One of the things they did was very unpleasant and uncomfortable. They shoved him in a cage that was too small for him. They would keep him in there for days. Many of the soldiers did not survive the cruel treatment. But they never broke this man’s spirit. After he was released, he was interviewed. What was his secret? He said, “When I was in that uncomfortable cage, it was horrible. My whole body ached and I longed to stretch. Everything ached.” He said, “I would think of my wife, and what it would be like when I came home, and what she would say—how happy she would be.” He said, “I would think of that by the hour.” He liked to play golf. So as he lay in that little cage, he would practice his swing. In his mind he would play a round of golf in the golf course back home. He would think about every hole. One day he was released. In a few days he went and played a game of golf. He shot the best game he ever had. Amazing! He had been practicing, in a cage, for months how to swing that golf club, all the while looking forward to getting home.
What was the joy that Jesus was thinking about on the cross? “And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people; and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying.” Isaiah 65:19. What was He thinking about on the cross? He was thinking about you. “The joy of My people”—was the focus of His thoughts. He said, “Some day they will be in My kingdom, and I will take all sorrow away from them.” Jesus endured, because He was thinking of the delight you would have in His kingdom. You were on His mind. He saw the happy looks that would be on your face, and He endured. “Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame.”
Do you know how you can endure? You can endure by thinking about Him. He endured by thinking about you—how happy you would be when He wiped all your tears away. You can endure by thinking about Him and what He went through for you. You will have strength to go through the trials of life, to be patient, to overcome all anger, all fretfulness. Jesus was pained with the cutting remarks that were said about Him, but He never murmured or complained. Friends, we need to get our minds off the trials of this life. We need to have our mind riveted on the One that has gone through the trials already.
When He was on the cross, the religionists of His day ridiculed Jesus. They made sneering remarks that cut to the very quick of His heart. He knows what it means to be reproached. But He endured, just thinking of the joy that He could bring you. And you can endure thinking about the joy that you can bring Him. There is a wonderful joy that is laid up for the saints. A great part of that joy will be in seeing our Lord happy.
We are warned, “Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son, and children shall rise up against their parents and shall cause them to be put to death, and ye shall be hated of all men for My sake, but he that shall endure until the end, the same shall be saved.” Mark 13:12, 13. Righteousness and truth do not mix with error. If you are standing in defense of truth, you are going to be hated.
Are you ready to endure hatred? If you endure you will be saved. But the time is coming when all hatred will be at an end. “And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” Isaiah 35:10. Sorrow and sighing will someday be forever gone.
Look to Jesus. He can give you hope. You may feel encased in a cast, not a cast of plaster, but a cast of hatred and distrust. And it is hot, and itchy, and you want out, but you cannot get out. You are in the middle of a trial. If you look to Jesus, He will give you comfort. He will give you endurance. He will give you joy. You will have peace in the middle of the trial, because He is sufficient to take you through.
“Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2.