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Visions Of Hope: Endurance

...life should be a voluntary overcoming of difficulties, those met with and those voluntarily created, otherwise it is just a dice-game...

William Sykes brings a collection of quotations on the subject of endurance.

Endurance—power of enduring, undergoing pain etc.; bearing up


Shortly after arriving in London to work as chaplain to University College, I met a man, roughly my age, asking for help. I listened to him carefully. His parents had split up several years ago. He had been thrown out of St Andrew's University for drunken violent behaviour. This was followed by a breakdown and a period in mental hospital where he was diagnosed as schizophrenic. At the time he was on medication and living in a hostel. He had no money and was terribly hungry, and his clothes were in tatters. I gave him something to eat and fixed him up with some clothes, and that started an acquaintanceship which was to last for more than twenty years.

From then onwards he saw me regularly. The only job he could hold down was washing up, and this only for a short time before his health broke down again. He was seeing a doctor on a regular basis and taking all sorts of drugs—tranquillizers, anti-depressants and sleeping tablets.

Things did not improve for him. He appeared on one occasion with an impressive black eye. He had been involved in a fight and beaten up. He went through a long phase in which he suffered from paranoia in which he feared the Russians were after him. He unfortunately phoned the police with a bomb hoax, and didn't get away quickly enough. They caught him as he was leaving the phone-box. He experienced life in prison for a time. And so it went on. When I left London he managed to track me down in Oxford, and he continued to see me as before. By now he was having heart trouble, and the onset of Parkinson's disease. How he managed to endure those twenty years, I shall never know. Life for him was a living hell. Last year his step-mother died, and he went back to live in the country and to settle down on the family farm. Certainly for me he personifies endurance, and I've only given a brief summary of what he went through.

The Lord is a stronghold to him whose way is upright.
Proverbs 10:29

Set thy heart aright, and constantly endure, and make not haste in time of trouble.
Ecclesiasticus 2:2 (AV)

By your endurance you will gain your lives.
Luke 21:19

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1 Corinthians 13:7

Some strains are bearable and even bracing, but others are deadly.
A.C. Benson, Extracts from the Letters of Dr. AC. Benson to M.E.A, Jarrold Publishing, 1927, page 41

life should be a voluntary overcoming of difficulties, those met with and those voluntarily created, otherwise it is just a dice-game.
A.R. Orage, On Love, The Janus Press, 1957, page 61

I often wish there were some index or inward monitor showing me when I had not reached the limit of my power of resistance and endurance in trouble. Sometimes, I dare say, I fancy I can hold out no longer when, in reality, I am nowhere near falling.
Mark Rutherford, Last Pages From a Journal, Oxford University Press, 1915, page 316

To endure is greater than to dare; to tire out hostile fortune; to be daunted by no difficulty; to keep heart when all have lost it; to go through intrigue spotless; to forego even ambition when the end is gained—who can say this is not greatness?
William Makepeace Thackeray, The Virginians, Smith, Elder, & Co., 1894, page 761

There remain times when one can only endure. One lives on, one doesn't die, and the only thing that one can do, is to fill one's mind and time as far as possible with the concerns of other people. It doesn't bring immediate peace, but it brings the dawn nearer.
A.C. Benson, Extracts from the Letters of Dr. AC. Benson to M.EA, Jarrold Publishing, 1927, page 14

The years should temper a man like steel, so that he can bear more and more and emerge more and more the conqueror over life. In the nature of things we must grow weaker in body, but in the divine nature of things we must grow ever stronger in the faith which can endure the slings and arrows of life, and not fail.
William Barclay, The Letters to Timothy and Titus, The Saint Andrew Press, 1965, page 283

He's truly valiant that can wisely suffer
The worst that man can breathe, and make his wrongs his outsides;
To wear them like his raiment carelessly,
And ne'er prefer his injuries to his heart
To bring it into danger.
William Shakespeare, Timon of Athens, III. v. 31

The value of such moral teaching lies in a man learning what others have experienced and what he too may expect of life. Whatever happens to him, he will realize that he is meeting the common lot of mankind and not a peculiar fate, fortunate or unfortunate. Even if this knowledge does not help us to escape sorrows, it shows us how to endure them and, perhaps, how to conquer them.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, The Practical Wisdom of Goethe, chosen by Emil Ludwig, George Allen & Unwin,
1933, page 159

Why should I murmur at my lot forlorn?
The self-same Fate that doom'd me to be poor
Endues me with a spirit to endure
All, and much more, than is or has been borne
By better men, of want, or worldly scorn.
My soul has faith.
Hartley Coleridge, 'Sonnet XIV' in New Poems, Oxford University Press, 1942, page 11

Life makes many an attempt to take away our faith. Things happen to us and to others which baffle our understanding; life has its problems to which there seems no solution and its questions to which there seems no answer; life has its dark places where there seems to be nothing to do but hold on. Faith is always a victory, the victory of the soul which tenaciously maintains its clutch on God.
William Barclay, The Letters to the Corinthians, The Saint Andrew Press, 1988, page 143

Provided we attain at last to the truly heroic and divine life, which is the life of virtue, it will matter little to us by what wild and weary ways, or through what painful and humiliating processes, we have arrived thither. If God has loved us, if God will receive us, then let us submit loyally and humbly to His law—'whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.'
Charles Kingsley, Daily Thoughts, Macmillan & Co., 1884, page 41

The answer to this suffering lies in endurance. The Greek word for this endurance is hupomone. The keynote of hupomone is not grim, bleak acceptance of trouble but triumph. It describes the spirit which can not only accept suffering but triumph over it. Someone once said to a sufferer, 'Suffering colours life, doesn't it?' The sufferer replied, 'Yes, but I propose to choose the colour.' As the silver comes purer from the fire, so the Christian can emerge finer and stronger from hard days. The Christian is the athlete of God whose spiritual muscles become stronger from the discipline of difficulties.
William Barclay, The Letters to the Corinthians, The Saint Andrew Press, 1988, page 170

He [Paul] begins with one triumphant word of the Christian life—endurance (hupomone). It is untranslatable. It does not describe the frame of mind which can sit down with folded hands and bowed head and let a torrent of troubles sweep over it in passive resignation. It describes the ability to bear things in such a triumphant way that it transfigures them... It is the courageous and triumphant ability to pass the breaking-point and not to break and always to greet the unseen with a cheer. It is the alchemy which transmutes tribulation into strength and glory.
William Barclay, The Letters to the Corinthians, The Saint Andrew Press, 1988, page 212

How do the saints endure? By what divine strategy do they maintain their faith?
They believe that God is in their suffering all the time! They do not see events as happening apart from God, nor put an undue stress on the difference between what God does and what God permits. They find God even in what He allows. Because the Universe is God's at the last, they see Him as taking ultimate responsi¬bility for whatever happens. If it were possible to conceive of anything utterly sterile of good, God, they believe, would not permit it. Anything that happens, rightly met with God, is fecund of good. Therefore, they find God even in suffering; even in suffering prolonged, undeserved and bitter.
W.E. Sangster, The Pure in Heart, The Epworth Press, 1954, page 150

There is a spirit, which I feel, that delights to do no evil nor to revenge any wrong, but delights to endure all things, in hope to enjoy its own in the end. Its hope is to outlive all wrath and contention, and to weary out all exaltation and cruelty, or whatever is of a nature contrary to itself. It sees to the end of all temptations: As it bears no evil in itself, so it conceives none in thoughts to any other: If it be betrayed, it bears it; for its ground and spring is the mercies and forgiveness of God. Its crown is meekness, its life is everlasting love unfeigned, and it takes its kingdom with entreaty and not with contention, and keeps it by lowliness of mind. In God alone it can rejoice, though none else regard it or can own its life. It is conceived in sorrow and brought forth without any to pity it; nor doth it murmur at grief and oppression. It never rejoiceth but through sufferings; for with the world's joy it is murdered. I found it alone, being forsaken: I have fellowship therein with them who lived in dens and desolate places in the earth; who through death obtained their resurrection and eternal holy life.
James Naylor, A Quaker Saint. This is 'His last testimony, said to be delivered by him about two hours before his Departure'. From 'A Collection of Sundry Books, Epistles and Papers', &c, London, 1715. It seems to rely on oral tradition. I have followed the text in the Book, except that that has and takes its kingdom, and obtained this resurrection.
Robert Bridges, in Spirit of Man, Longman, Green & Co., 1973, number 372

They came as for a blessing, and they found a work. They are soldiers in Christ's army; they fight against 'things that are seen,' and they have 'all these things against them.' To their surprise, as time goes on, they find that their lot is changed. They find that in one shape or other adversity happens to them. If they refuse to afflict themselves, God afflicts them. One blow falls, they are startled; it passes over, it is well; they expect nothing more. Another comes; they wonder; 'why is this?' they ask; they think that the first should be their security against the second; they bear it however; and it passes too. Then a third comes; they almost murmur; they have not yet mastered the great doctrine that endurance is their portion. O simple soul, is it not the law of thy being to endure since thou camest to Christ? Why camest thou but to endure? Why didst thou taste His heavenly feast, but that it might work in thee? Why didst thou kneel beneath His hand, but that He might leave on thee the print of His wounds? Why wonder then that one sorrow does not buy off the next? Does one drop of rain absorb the second?
Does the storm cease because it has begun? Understand thy place in God's kingdom, and rejoice, not complain, that in thy day thou hast thy lot with Prophets and Apostles.
John Henry Newman, Plain and Parochial Sermons, J.G.F. & J. Rivington, 1840, volume 5, page 335

If you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs and blaming it on you, If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, But make allowance for their doubting too; If you can wait and not be tired of waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies, Or being hated, don't give way to hating, And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master; If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster And treat those two impostors just the same. If you can make one heap of all your winnings And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss, And lose, and start again at your beginnings And never breathe a word about your loss.
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch, If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you, If all men count with you, but none too much; If you can fill the unforgiving minute With sixty seconds' worth of distance run, Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it, And—which is more—you'll be a Man, my son!
Rudyard Kipling, 'If


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