The Mountain of Life
December 12, 2007 • By Ed Wrather
And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. - Romans 5:3-5 NKJV.
I have heard of the New York City Marathon and the Boston Marathon where the course is 26.2 miles, and I am always incredibly impressed by the endurance of those who can even finish such a race. However, I have recently learned of an even more difficult race; it is a 100-mile endurance race, and one of those races is run in Vermont. Their website says, “The Vermont 100 Endurance Race is one of the original 100 mile runs in the USA and a part of the Grand Slam series of Ultrarunning. Each year, 300 runners attempt to finish this hilly race over beautiful Vermont back roads and trails under the 30 hour cutoff point, and a well-trained few finish in under 24 hours. The current course record is 14:53:09.” Now that really is incredible, and you have to have endurance to finish that race!
Endurance is defined as (1 ability to bear prolonged hardship: the ability or power to bear prolonged exertion, pain, or hardship; (2 toleration of hardship: toleration of prolonged suffering or hardship; (3 persistence over time: the survival or persistence of something despite the ravages of time. When I was in college the last time, I considered entering a doctoral program. One professor shared with me some of his experiences in obtaining his doctorate, and graduate school in general. He summed it up by saying it was just an “endurance contest.” He said there were many people who were intelligent enough, and even more intelligent than he was, but they did not endure long enough to receive their degree.
According to the apostle Paul, the problems, trials, and tribulations of life require “perseverance,” or as the KJV puts it, “patience.” It sounds like Paul is saying there are some things in life that require endurance. To live the Christian life requires that we endure the temptations of this world, the flesh, and the devil. To live a Christian life we must persevere in the face of harsh and critical words from those around us. We must persevere with kindness in return for the hateful things, which are sometimes done to us. We must persevere in the face of temptation; resisting for one more day.
As we persevere day by day, over time we will see that Paul was right. Over time, we will see that perseverance develops character, and this godly character produces hope. In many ways, life is like a climb to the top of Mt. Everest. Stacy Allison, the first American woman to climb to the summit of Everest said this, “The end of the ridge and end of the world... then nothing but that clear, empty air. There was nowhere else to climb. I was standing on the top of the world.” Let us keep on climbing to new heights with Jesus, because some bright shining day we too will stand on the top of our mountain, a mountain called, “Life.”