That word love always makes you think of romantic ideals, happy things, joyous moments. Here in I Corinthians 13:7, though, Paul throws in a word that seems out of place. It’s that word persevere, or in some translations, endure, a word that hints that there could be some suffering or pain involved. To endure, after all, is to suffer patiently. So Paul is saying that love may at times involve pain, and in that pain, we are to remain patient.
But of course love involves pain. At the most extreme end, we know that people we love will die and we will grieve. But even in the everyday of life and love, we experience pain even in the midst in our love.
Family and friends disappoint us.
Fellow believers let us down or disagree with us.
People do things that test our patience.
The easy thing would be to give up on these people, to walk away from the pain. Cover it up, sweep it under the rug.
But Paul calls us to something else. We are to face the pain head on, press through it with patience, and with something else: Hope. The hope of the Good News and the hope of Jesus work in us gives us the ability to persevere, to endure.
Author and pastor John MacArthur says the word endure was a military term that described what an Army would do when it was holding its position no matter what happened. The word steadfast comes to mind. Other words follow: loyal, committed, devoted.
So the question is: When others do things that annoy us, when people hurt us, when others don’t see eye to eye with us — in those moments, will I be devoted to love, or will I shrink away and give up?
Christ shows us the way. This week, we begin the journey from palm branches and “hallelujahs” to a cross and “crucify him!” In those moments, as whips lashed his bare skin and as a crown of thorns pierced his head, Jesus remained steadfast. His gaze was intently focused on the cross. He endured. He bore it all.
Of course, in doing this Jesus wasn’t just an example for us to follow. He was the very forgiveness we need because of our lack of endurance, and he was the power to turn to an enduring kind of love that holds on no matter what.
Repent: Name those places where you are not protecting others; places where you are not trusting our Father; places where you are not hopeful; and places where you want to give up.
Respond: As we mark Holy Week, that week leading through Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and up to Easter Sunday, take time to read and meditate on this familiar story, but asking God to renew your sense of awe in Christ’s work for us.
- Luke 19:28-40
- Luke 19:41-48
- Psalm 118:19-27
- Luke 20
- Luke 21
- Mark 14:1-11
- Luke 22:1-65
- Psalm 22:1-18
- Luke 22:66-71 and Luke 23:1-56
- Isaiah 53
- Luke 23:56
- Isaiah 52:7-10
- Luke 24
Adapted from Leslie Ann Jones’ “A Simple Bible Reading Plan for Holy Week”.