What does the Bible say about endurance?
How do we endure tough times when we don’t understand what’s happening, when we’re in pain or grief, or when our goals seem elusive?
Living in this world is literally living in a war zone because our adversary Satan is prowling about like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). The Bible tells us to stand our ground against the spiritual forces of evil, to stand firm against the devil’s strategies (Ephesians 6:10-14). We also live in a fallen world, where sickness, disability, death, violence, persecution, hate, and natural disasters are rampant. Even godly people can fall victim.
We need to build up spiritual toughness so that we are not devastated and destroyed when trials come. Instead, like the diamond formed through heat and pressure, God refines and perfects us through those fiery trials. It all depends on whether or not we have endurance.
Christian quotes about endurance
“Perseverance is more than endurance. It is endurance combined with absolute assurance and certainty that what we are looking for is going to happen.” Oswald Chambers
“Endurance is not just the ability to bear a hard thing, but to turn it into glory.” William Barclay
“Endurance is a key indicator of spiritual fitness.” Alistair Begg
“God uses the encouragement of the Scriptures, the hope of our ultimate salvation in glory, and the trials that He either sends or allows to produce endurance and perseverance.” Jerry Bridges
What is endurance in Christianity?
The Bible has a lot to say about the Biblical virtue of endurance. The word “endure” (Greek: hupomenó) in the Bible means to stand our ground, bear up against pressure, and persevere through challenging times. It literally means remaining under or holding up a load, which God’s power enables us to do. It means to bear hardship bravely and calmly.
1. Romans 12:11-12 “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”
2. Romans 5:3-4 (ESV) “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.”
3. 2 Corinthians 6:4 (NIV) “In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind.”
4. Hebrews 10:36-37 (KJV) “For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. 37 For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.”
5. 1 Thessalonians 1:3 “We recall, in the presence of our God and Father, your work of faith, labor of love, and endurance of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
6. James 1:3 “knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.”
7. Romans 8:25 “But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.”
8. Luke 21:19 “By your endurance you will gain your lives.”
9. Romans 2:7 “to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life.”
10. 2 Corinthians 6:4 “but in everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses.”
11. 1 Peter 2:20 “But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.”
12. 2 Timothy 2:10-11 “Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. 11 Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him.”
13. 1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
14. 1 Peter 4:12 “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.”
Why does a Christian need endurance?
Everyone – Christian or not – needs endurance because everyone faces challenges in life. But, as Christians, one aspect of endurance – patience – is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). It is cultivated in our lives as we submit to the Holy Spirit’s control.
The Bible commands us to endure:
- “. . . let’s run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking only at Jesus, the originator and perfecter of the faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross . . consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:1-3).
- “You need to persevere, so that after you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.” (Hebrews 10:36)
- “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” (2 Timothy 2:3)
- “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:7-8).
As Christians, we might be ridiculed or persecuted for doing the right thing, like taking a Biblical stand on moral issues. In this case, the Bible says, “But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God” (1 Peter 2:20)
In many parts of the world and throughout history, Christians have been persecuted simply for being Christians. We can expect great persecution to happen more as the end times approach. When we endure persecution for our faith, God says:
- “If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us” (2 Timothy 2:12).
- “But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:13).
15. Hebrews 10:36 (NASB) “For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.”
16. Romans 15:4 “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
17. Romans 2:7 “To those who by perseverance in doing good seek glory, honor, and immortality, He will give eternal life.”
18. 1 Thessalonians 1:3 “We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
19. Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV) “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
20. 1 Corinthians 13:7-8 (NKJV) “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish.”
21. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”
22. 2 Timothy 2:3 “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”
23. Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
24. Colossians 1:9-11 “For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience.”
25. James 1:12 “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”
What does endurance produce?
- Endurance (perseverance), along with other godly virtues, makes us effective and productive in our Christian walk and ministry:
- Endurance makes us perfect and complete, lacking in nothing:
- Endurance (perseverance) produces good character and hope:
26. 2 Peter 1:5-8 “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
27. James 1:2-4 “Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
28. Romans 5:3-5 “We also celebrate in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
29. 1 John 2:5 “But whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him.”
30. Colossians 1:10 “so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”
31. 1 Peter 1:14-15 “As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do.”
How to build Christian endurance?
When we face challenges, God uses them like a refiner’s fire to purify and mature us spiritually. As long as we allow God to do His work in the process, we grow more when passing through seasons of fiery trials than when everything is smooth sailing. We learn more about God’s nature and grow in intimacy with Him, and that’s why He says to “count it all joy!” Three keys to building Christian endurance are surrender, rest, and cultivating the peace that passes understanding.
- Surrender: In many difficult circumstances, we need to be intentional about trusting God to get us through the situation. This involves surrendering our will and our agenda for His better plan and His will. We might have one idea of how things should go, and He may have a far superior one!
When King Hezekiah was confronted by the Assyrians who laid siege to Jerusalem, he received a letter from the Assyrian king Sennacharib, taunting him for trusting God. Hezekiah took that letter to the temple and spread it out before God, praying for deliverance. And God did deliver! (Isaiah 37) Surrender involves laying our problems and challenges out before God, letting Him work it out. He will give us the power to endure the situation, to stand our ground spiritually, and grow through the experience.
- Rest: Enduring involves self-control. Sometimes we have to endure accusation and offense from others, which means turning the other cheek rather than engaging in confrontation (Matthew 5:39). That involves a lot of endurance! But God wants us to rest in Him, letting Him fight our battles for us (1 Samuel 17:47, 2 Chronicles 20:15). Resting in God is the calm assurance that God’s got our back. He has our victory.
- Cultivating Peace: God’s peace is supernatural. Anyone can feel peaceful on a quiet walk through the woods or watching the waves lap on the beach. But God’s peace keeps us serene through the rough times when we’re suffering or catastrophes happen. This sort of peace is counterintuitive. People around us will wonder how we can remain calm in the fire.
God’s peace guards our minds and hearts, enabling us to access situations calmly, do what we can do, and leave the rest to God. We cultivate peace by pursuing the Prince of Peace.
32. Philippians 4:7 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
33. Romans 12:2 “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
34. James 4:10 “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”
35. 1 Chronicles 16:11 “Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!”
36. 2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is inspired by God and beneficial for teaching, for [b]rebuke, for correction, for training in righteousness.”
37. Psalm 119:130 “The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.”
38. Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
39. John 15:1-5 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
40. Psalm 46:10-11 “He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” 11 The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”
You are not alone
God is always with you, and God is always good. He is never evil – remember that! He is with you in every situation you face. He is “our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).
Just like God was present with Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego in the fiery furnace (Daniel 3), He is with you right in the middle of whatever fires you pass through. “I am continually with You; You have taken hold of my right hand” (Psalm 73:23).
God’s not just with you, He’s using those circumstances to develop you, and He’s using it for your good. That’s what He does. He takes what the devil means for evil and turns it around for our good. “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
When passing through the fiery furnaces of life, we can rest in Him: in His power, promises, and presence. “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
41. Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
42. Matthew 28:20 “and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
43. Psalm 73:23-26 “Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. 24 You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. 25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
44. Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
45. Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
46. 1 Chronicles 28:20 “And David said to Solomon his son, Be strong and of good courage, and do it: fear not, nor be dismayed: for the Lord God, even my God, will be with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of the Lord.”
47. Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
The God of endurance
We need to remember that God is not the one sending us the fiery trials.
“Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. No one is to say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.” (James 1:12-13)
The word for “tempted” in verse 13 is peirazó, the same word translated as “trials” in verse 12. The trials come because we live in a fallen world under the curse of sin and because Satan maliciously tempts us to doubt God’s goodness. He tempted Jesus, and he tempts us as well.
Nevertheless, God can use that suffering in our lives to produce endurance, good character, and hope! Achieving the character of Christ includes passing through times of testing, such as Jesus endured.
“Because He Himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.” (Hebrews 2:18)
“God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide an escape, so that you can stand up under it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)
God has equipped us to endure life’s trials and testing.
“But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:37-39)
48. Hebrews 12:2 “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
49. Hebrews 12:3 (NIV) “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
50. Hebrews 2:18 “For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.”
51. Romans 8:37-39 “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Never give up
When faced with seemingly insurmountable challenges, we’re tempted to just throw in the towel and give up. But God says to persevere! How do we do that?
- We let the Spirit control our minds – rather than our fleshly nature – because that leads to life and peace (Romans 8:6).
- We cling to His promises! We repeat them, memorize them, and pray them back to God!
- What we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will ultimately reveal in us (Romans 8:18).
- His Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness and intercedes for us when we don’t know how to pray. He pleads for us in harmony with God’s will (Romans 8:26-27).
- Since God is for us, who or what can be against us? (Romans 8:31)
- Nothing can separate us from God’s love! (Romans 8:35-39)
- Overwhelming victory is ours through Christ who loves us! (Romans 8:37)
- We remember that trials and testing present opportunities to grow and mature. Jesus is the perfector of our faith (Hebrews 12:12). Through suffering, Jesus molds us into His image as we surrender to Him.
- We keep our eyes on the prize (Philippians 3:14).
52. Romans 12:12 “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, persistent in prayer.”
53. Philippians 3:14 “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
54. 2 Timothy 4:7 (NLT) “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.”
55. 2 Chronicles 15:7 “But you, be strong and do not lose courage, for there is a reward for your work.”
56. Luke 1:37 “For no word from God will ever fail.”
Pray for endurance
God’s Word gives blunt advice when suffering: “Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray.” (James 5:13)
The word “suffering” here means enduring evil, affliction, painful setbacks, hardship, and trouble. When passing through these seasons of difficulty and evil, we need to be careful not to murmur or complain against God but pray for His endurance, wisdom, and strength. In these times, we need to pursue God more passionately than ever.
Joni Erickson, who daily endures pain and quadriplegia, says this about praying for endurance:
“Just how, then, do I pray for endurance? I ask God to keep me, preserve me, and defeat every rising rebellion or doubt in my heart. I ask God to deliver me from the temptation to complain. I ask Him to crush the camera when I start running mental movies of my successes. And you can do the same. Ask the Lord to incline your heart, master your will, and do whatever must be done to keep you trusting and fearing Him until Jesus comes. Hold fast! That day will come soon.”[i]
Don’t forget to praise God while praying for endurance! You’ll be amazed at how singing hymns and worship songs and praising and thanking God will reverse your despair. It might even reverse your situation! It did for Paul and Silas (see below).
57. 2 Thessalonians 3:5 (ESV) “May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.”
58. James 5:13 “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.”
59. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
60. Colossians 4:2 “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”
61. Psalm 145:18 “The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth.”
62. 1 John 5:14 “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”
Endure to the end
When we patiently endure through suffering and trials, we glorify God. If we start falling apart and getting anxious, we must stop, drop to our knees, and pray! God will keep His promises, but not necessarily in the time frame we have set in our minds (as we will see with Abraham below).
Enduring to the end doesn’t just mean gritting your teeth and bearing it. It means “counting it all joy” – praising God for what He’s going to accomplish through this hardship as He develops perseverance, character, and hope in us. It means asking God to let us see our difficulties from His perspective and help us grow spiritually.
63. Matthew 10:22 “and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”
64. 2 Timothy 2:12 “if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us.”
65. Hebrews 10:35-39 “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37 For, “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.” 38 And, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” 39 But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.”
Examples of endurance in the Bible
- Abraham: (Genesis 12-21 ) God promised Abraham, “I will make you into a great nation.” Do you know how long it took for that promised child to be born? Twenty-five years! Ten years after God’s promise, when they still had no children, Sarah decided to take matters into her hands. She gave her maid Hagar to Abraham to be his wife, and Hagar conceived (Genesis 16:1-4). Sarah’s attempt to manipulate events didn’t go well. Finally, they had their son Isaac when Abraham was 100 years old, and Sarah was 90. It took 25 years for God’s promise to manifest, and they had to learn to endure through those decades and trust God to keep His promise in His timeframe.
- Joseph: (Genesis 37, 39-50) Joseph’s jealous brothers sold him into slavery. Even though Joseph endured his brothers’ betrayal and the life of an enslaved person in a foreign country, he worked diligently. He was elevated to a high position by his master. But then, he was falsely accused of attempted rape and landed in prison. But despite his wrongful treatment, he didn’t let bitterness take root. His attitude was noticed by the head warden, who put him in charge of the other prisoners.
Finally, he interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams and got promoted to the second highest position in Egypt. Joseph “suffered well” – he developed a godly character through suffering. This enabled him to show mercy to his brothers, who had betrayed him. He told them, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive” (Genesis 50:19-20).
- Paul & Silas: (Acts 16) Paul and Silas were on a missionary journey. A mob formed against them, and the city officials had them beaten with wooden rods and thrown into prison with their feet clamped in stocks. At midnight, instead of complaining, Paul and Silas endured their pain and imprisonment by praying and singing hymns to God! Suddenly, God delivered them with an earthquake. And God delivered their jailor, as Paul and Silas shared the gospel with him; he and his family believed and were baptized.
66. James 5:11 “As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.”
67. Hebrews 10:32 “Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering.”
68. Revelation 2:3 “You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.”
69. 2 Timothy 3:10-11 “Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me!”
70. 1 Corinthians 4:12 “and we toil, working with our own hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure.”
Endurance is not a state of passivity but actively trusting God and growing through the process. In Abraham’s case, he endured for 25 years. Sometimes, the situation never changes, yet God wants to change us! Endurance requires us to trust in God’s promises and His character. It requires us to strip off the weight of sin and unbelief and run the race God has set before us by keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-4).