I didn’t intend to rock “Stick It Out” as the next in the RUSH Bible Study series, but I was looking at this Romans passage and BOOM! it was all about “Stick It Out.”
“But not only that! We even take pride in our problems, because we know that trouble produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope. This hope doesn’t put us to shame, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” [Romans 5:3-5]
I’ve always loved the groove of this song, thinking it’s easily one of the stand out tracks on Counterparts. In all honesty, I never took time to consider the lyrics until I was reading the Paul passage and realized that what he is saying is that hope is the product of sticking it out.
To get to hope, you have to have trouble, suffering; some sort of hardship. Who has that anymore? In order to find hope, true hope, you have to just hang in there, Paul calls it endurance. Peart describes it like this:
“Lightning reactions / must be carefully trained…”
It takes work to develop lightning reactions. In the 80’s when all things were Ninja, I remember pretending like I was one. Everything went awesomely, except I couldn’t sneak up on anyone, stick a throwing star in anything, cling to the ceiling or beat anyone up. Truth is, the conflict being the fact that I wasn’t a ninja was not met with endurance, the act of learning to become one.
I wanted the product without the process.
“Heat of the moment,
Curse of the young,
Spit out your anger,
Don’t swallow your tongue.”
Youth doesn’t like to endure. More than ever, youth wants NOW! But nothing comes without enduring a process. From childbirth to driver’s license, feature films to haikus, there is a process that you have to make it through. Several of my friends are in places in their lives the I wouldn’t want to be in, like…ever. Their problems present them, and me (all of those around them, really) with the opportunity to develop endurance, which is nothing less than putting up with the shit life throws at you.
What are you enduring? How are you enduring it?
Character is the diamond in the coal of Christianity
Paul continues, telling us that endurance produces something more than callouses: Character. Character is the diamond in the coal of Christianity. For so much of life, we are caught between reacting and responding. Reacting takes no thought, it’s “natural reflex, a pendulum swing.” It takes no planning. I’d wager that reaction happens because we don’t plan, think ahead. Reacting actually makes me feel dizzy. When I go through too many days reacting to the needs, cares, crises of others, “You might be too dizzy to do the right thing,” is a best case scenario.
Reaction looks like this:
“Each time we bathe our reactions
In artificial light
Each time we alter the focus
To make the wrong move seem right.”
Character helps us respond appropriately in critical moments: It’s focus. Response is an action free from reaction. Response takes planning and thought. When we respond, we act in line with our character. We use our endurance in the given moment. When “Sully” Sullenberger landed the plane in the Hudson, he didn’t react to crisis, he responded to it. He had been trained to land a plane in the Hudson River. He used his training and landed the plane safely. He endured countless hours to learn how to do what he did. His endurance informed his response, the way our endurance informes our character. Peter talks about it like this:
“This is why you must make every effort to add moral excellence to your faith; and to moral excellence, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, endurance; and to endurance, godliness; and to godliness, affection for others; and to affection for others, love. If all these are yours and they are growing in you, they’ll keep you from becoming inactive and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” [2 Peter 1:5-8]
Hope is what happens when you stick it out.
“You get so used to deception, you make your self a nervous wreck.” Hope is what keeps us free from the pain of deception, free from anxiety. Paul tells the Romans that it’s a process to get there. It’s our process, too.
Stick it out!
because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit,
who has been given to us.