Endurance….A long walk in a dark tunnel

Endurance….A long walk in a dark tunnel by Robynn. Follow Robynn on Twitter @RobynnBliss

Tunnel of trees

2014 has been a long year.

We returned from an extended trip to India on January 4th. It took me two weeks to regain my equilibrium (meaning—to remember how to do laundry, make lunches and cook supper!) Toward the end of January I came down sick with a twenty-four hour violent flu bug. I had never experienced that before. It was intriguing and it took its toll. That led to a cough that settled and simmered in my soul as well as in my chest. Seven weeks later, one round of antibiotics and another of steroids, I was finally well.

In the midst of that we learned that the landlords at the retreat center we used to run in Varanasi had evicted the current leader. That was devastating and painful. Our whole family grieved it. It was our spot. It was a tethering point in our beloved Asia suddenly severed.

Soon after that dear friends in Pakistan were involved in a tragic road accident. My Auntie was killed as a result. Her daughter sustained serious head injuries. Her granddaughter broke both her legs. Meanwhile my Pakistani Uncle was still battling cancer.

No sooner had the shock of that worn off a little then my father in law was killed in a farming accident.
We remembered him at a memorial service on Tuesday evening. Thursday morning both my parents, visiting from out-of-town for the funeral, took ill. They left on Friday. By Friday evening I had a fever. Our youngest started on Saturday. Two others came down with it on Sunday.

Sunday evening Lowell’s brother’s father in law also died. More sadness. More grief. Another funeral.

This morning I broke down and cried. It’s been a long, dark tunnel. I’m worn thin.

And Lowell prayed that we would endure.

Honestly endurance is our only option. I see no light at the end of this particular tunnel. There are glimmers of hope but nothing substantive. All we can do is put one foot in front of the other. We keep walking. We are hard pressed. We are squeezed. It’s dark and damp where we are just now. I can’t see where I’m going.

This morning at the doctor’s office I thought about faith and truth and hope. What would it look like to wall paper the inside of the tunnel. I’m not talking about settling in permanently….but since we’re going to be here for a time it might help to make the place a little more cheery. What images would I stick on the walls? What verses would I write out in thick black marker? What photographs would I frame?

It’s in a tunnel that faith becomes oh-so-practical! There’s no faking it now. That’s not an option. Truth and hope have to hold strong. They have to work now or I’m done. I’ll throw in the towel. What I stick on the walls of the tunnel has to be life-giving and sustaining. It’s the reminders I need if I’m going to endure.

I looked up the word, endurance, in the Merriam-Webster dictionary. It’s “the ability to do something difficult for a long time; the ability to deal with pain or suffering that continues for a long time; the quality of continuing for a long time.” Lowell and I have done long-time stuff before. We have some experience at enduring. Perhaps we’ve grown to possess the “quality of continuing for a long time”. The thing with enduring is it’s hard. Enduring implies something needs to be endured. It’s the difficult, the pain or suffering, the continuing from the definitions that are the kickers. Enduring a picnic or a party aren’t as difficult! Enduring hard things, dark seasons, long tunnels —that’s the painful part.

When I look up the word endurance in scripture I’m astounded. We are called to endure suffering, temptation, persecution, hostility, testing, trials, unfair treatment. We aren’t left to our own devices. We’ve been equipped to endure: “We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need.” (Col 1:11).

But what is the most astounding thing I’ve discovered in my hunt is what endures even beyond our own calling to endure….. God’s love endures forever! His faithful love endures forever. His name, his kingdom, his throne—those all endure too. But over and over, a refrain in the perpetual rhythms of each story, the line is the same, His faithful love endures forever.

Are you stuck in a long dark tunnel too? I’m not naïve enough to think it’s just Lowell and I. Our darkest days probably seem grey to others. Cancer, unemployment, broken-hearted children. Tragedy, betrayal, divorce, loneliness, financial despair. These things come along at a merciless pace. They take our breath away. Our spirits lose vitality. Our bodies break down. Whatever we’ve been asked to endure there is a force that endures longer, stronger, past whatever limited capacities we have. His faithful love endures forever!

I’ve poured myself a cup of tea. My Christ candle is lit and I’ve pulled out the glue. I’m sticking that truth up inside the tunnel. I’m writing it out in large cursive letters. It’s the one thing I can hold on to right now. His faithful love endures longer than I have to. His love endures. Forever.

What about you? Where are you learning about endurance? What can you hold to during this time?

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14 thoughts on “Endurance….A long walk in a dark tunnel

  1. It has been my experience that I cycle in and out of times of darkness followed by times of light and comfort. For 37 years this same cycle has continued, the number of years I have been living to know God better. Of course I am ever so much more aware of my sin now than before, but at times my faith has been paper thin and I wonder if the paper might rip and leave me plummeting into an abyss. But, thanks be to God, the only fall is into His arms of love…..thankful for that and I know you are, too.

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  2. Your tunnel has been long and filled with more twists and turns than one would want. May the faithfulness of God’s love fill your dark tunnel with even just a flicker of light. Can I add to your list? Singleness fits in the endurance camp and the tunnel too! There are times when it’s not a tunnel and it’s something to be relished and enjoyed. There are other times when the tunnel of singleness feels as though it is closing in and the walls are pressing up right against my heart. It is in those moments when I question God’s faithfulness and love. I know in my heart His faithfulness and love are absolute qualities of His character I can rely on, but sometimes the tunnel feels more real than He is. In those times, I long for flickers of His faithfulness to break forth like lightning, lighting up a prairie sky, shaking me from the doldrums of discouragement and tunnel vision so that I will gain His perspective again. Oh to endure gracefully and full of hope!

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    1. Oh Elena….I’m grieving with you. You wrote this up with such a raw heart. I’m so sorry for the pain you are in. You are hurting. These things are real. Your loneliness is poignant. I wish we could share a cup of coffee (well…we could each have our own…!!) and a long conversation. I love honest hearts…and you have one. God give you grace to endure…..

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  3. Thank you for this meditation, dear Robynn. Actually, I have to endure parties, though. ;) And through those, too, his love endures forever.

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    1. That’s funny Doula Dear! you crack me up! Of course Lowell would agree with you. Some of the hardest things he’s had to endure are parties and potlucks (although the latter is made easier with the presence of food!). What are your days like? We need to reconnect! I miss you! I’m anxious to see how God is showing up in your story. Love to you.

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  4. Robynn, my heart goes out to you! I feel for you and your family close by, and your Pakistani family as well. You said it so well that endurance and patience see us through many, many challenges and difficulties. It sounds like you have been through a great many trials in a short time. Know that God’s family will be praying for you all–whether nearby or far away. It doesn’t matter, because God hears. God is always available. And God;s love is there for you, one day at a time. I pray that God’s arms of love, encouragement, comfort and care surround you today, and each day. Truly.

    I realize you may not want to be reminded of hospitals and medical centers, but my mind keeps coming back to them. I’ve worked as a chaplain in hospitals for most of the past ten years. I have got to lift up the faithful, caring nurses–in ICU and NICU, in emergency rooms, in extended care centers, in dialysis and cancer centers–day in and day out. Since this is National Nursing Week here in the United States,: http://wp.me/p4cOf8-7K

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    1. Thank you Eliza for reminding us of the faithful Nurses that endure each day, week in and week out. Thank you for your sweet blessing on me too. I appreciate you.

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  5. Oh my dear friend! I too know this long dark tunnel and endurance is so hard. Thank you so much for putting it into words and reminding that His Love is what we hold on to. Maybe our tunnels will cross paths soon and we can wall paper together!

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    1. Loving the idea of wallpapering with you!!! I pray you can remember that only the love God can out-endure what you’re walking through! Love you Miss Jill.

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    1. I know. And I also know that some days it doesn’t feel like it’s enough….. I’m so sorry Tina. Hold on to what you know. Drink tea. Breath slowly. I’m saying a prayer for you.

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