The definition of spiritual endurance (or “steadfast endurance”) is this: the power to withstand hardship or stress; especially the inward fortitude necessary.
This definition from Logos Bible Software (Bible app and Basic package available free) is what you might expect. But what does the Bible say about endurance? Read Scriptures below, then keep reading for a memorable modern-day example from Daniel Ritchie, an author and speaker born without arms.
12 Bible verses and passages about endurance and perseverance
1. 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.
2. Isaiah 40:31
But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
3. Luke 18:1–8
And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
4. 1 Corinthians 15:58
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
5. 2 Thessalonians 2:15
So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.
6. Hebrews 12:1–2
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
7. James 1:2–4
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
8. 1 Corinthians 9:24
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.
9. Philippians 3:13–14
Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
10. Romans 5:3–4
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.
11. Galatians 6:9
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
12. Ephesians 6:10–20
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
Modern example of perseverance in Christ
Daniel Ritchie was born without arms, and God has used him greatly. Daniel wrote about that in his first book, My Affliction for His Glory: Living Out Your Identity in Christ. Living every day with adversity, he learned that only in Christ could true worth and purpose be found.
Now in his new book Endure: Building Faith for the Long Run, Daniel shares how he has persevered through struggle and shows readers how they can do the same.
Watch as he explains about the book and companion video course also available:
In this excerpt from chapter 2, Daniel encourages Christians not to quit:
When I run for exercise, quitting seems like a valid option about 90 percent of the time. Who in their right mind would want to put themselves through something like this? The sweating, the burning lungs, the sore legs—it is all awful.
We could say the same thing about being a disciple of Jesus. Who in their right mind would want to put themselves through something like this? Having to love your neighbors and pray for your enemies—has the Lord seen what they write on Facebook? I have to submit to my authorities and pray for them? Has God seen these guys who walk into the White House?
Loving God and others is hard when the easiest person to love is myself. The relationships closest to us can be the most draining, but those relationships can also be the most rewarding. To those people we can give the pure, unfiltered love of Jesus. We can love them simply because we know that Jesus loves them. They do not have to be perfect or act perfectly; I just cannot weary of displaying Jesus’s love to them.
Weariness of doing good is a real symptom of living in a world that tears one another apart. People can be hard, but so are our lives. It seems like every corner we turn or every milestone we hit, there is also evidence of the brokenness sin has left in its wake.
From the fall of man in Genesis 3, humanity has been set to deal with toil, frustration, hurt, strife, and ultimately death. The proclamation of hurt and death in Genesis 3 also came with a hopeful promise that One was coming to crush the head and deeds of the garden serpent. Even with that hope, we groan like Paul says in Romans 8:23: “And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”
Groaning has a cumulative effect in our minds and hearts. The inner turmoil of doubt, shame, fear, and discord closes off our hearts. We pull inward and away from the people we love the most. Our outer trials and hurt land like body blows on our already weary life. There are extended seasons of life where it seems like nothing can go right. We are enveloped in darkness and the only thing we want is to lie down and quit.
It is the same temptation to quit that Elijah came face to face with in 1 Kings 19. God had just defeated the prophets of Baal by raining down fire on Mount Carmel. Following their defeat, the false prophets were killed, which was not something Jezebel appreciated. She swore to have Elijah killed in the next 24 hours.
As soon as Elijah heard of the threat he went out into the desert, curled up under a tree, and asked to die. This was a quick drop to go from the most powerful prophet in Israel to being pushed to the absolute brink. Even a man who had seen God do unimaginably powerful acts found himself overwhelmed by his fear.
God did not scold or scoff at Elijah; rather, he sent an angel to attend to him. This angel gave Elijah food and water and then let Elijah go back to sleep. The angel returned a second time to give food and drink to Elijah so that he would have strength for his journey ahead. Then God sent him to a mountain where he showed Elijah both his power and his tenderness.
God never scolded Elijah for succumbing to his hurt and fear. His response to Elijah was one of tender provision. God provided the rest and the strength that Elijah needed. God reminded the prophet that the presence of the Father was never far from him. He was with him, for him, and still had plans for him.
God is not done with you. Until faith becomes sight, God desires to uphold you, love you, and use you as an instrument of his glory. The ultimate antidote to our fears and failures is that God’s presence in our lives is not dependent on present success; it is an established promise to His children. As the prophet Isaiah reminds vulnerable Israel:
You are my servant,
I have chosen you and not cast you off;
fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:9–10)
A sovereign and powerful God is not dismayed by your darkness, struggles, and failures. He knows about all of it, and he still loves you. He is still beside you and sustaining you. Take time to recover from your wounds. Take time to rest in his arms of grace. Build your strength as you trust in him.
But eventually, get back up. Do not stop running the race, even if that means going one small step at a time. It might be hard, but God has you in his hand. Do not quit. God has made you for more than fear and failure.
We know it is a hard and long journey, but with God at our side, we can run the race one step at a time until we reach the finish line of faith.
Over the next few chapters, we’ll look at some rhythms that will help us run with endurance, but before we look at those rhythms, I want to put this caveat in here: as you read, please do not assume that these rhythms are prescriptive. They are descriptive of healthy acts we can place in our lives on a consistent basis. These do not have to happen every day of every week for you to grow in Christ. I have no desire for this to be a legalistic checklist that you have to do.
Throughout the course of this book, we’ll walk through rhythms that you can practice on your own and within community to build endurance for the long run of faith, starting with Scripture, extending to lament and prayer, and then turning to local church membership, family, witness, and discipleship. Along the way, three case studies will allow us to look more closely at the examples of Paul, Abraham, and Joseph, whose lives of faith illustrate endurance and trust in God.
The suggestions in the chapters to come are for your encouragement and equipping. May these rhythms help you look more like Jesus so that the world may see Jesus in you.1
Endure: Building Faith for the Long Run is available today from Lexham Press.