I’m kind of a hupomeno kind of gal. I’ll have my 68th birthday this month. In a couple of months we’ll celebrate our 47th anniversary. I’ve been a mom for over 40 years, a grammy for 13. I taught school for 20 years, led a ministry for over 20 years and have been at the same church for 36 years. All of that is a whole lot of enduring through happy times and difficult times; times when I love my life and times when I feel like it’s too difficult to go on. When the Bible says in 1 Corinthians 13:7, “Love … endures through every circumstance,” it uses the Greek word hupomeno. This is the kind of endurance that remains through difficult, trying and wonderful circumstances. It doesn’t give up.
Hupomeno is perseverance in the face of circumstances. It means to suffer without giving up on faith. It does not surrender to circumstances or succumb under trial. It’s a quality of the mind. The noun form, hupomene, is the “bearing of evils and suffering with a tranquil mind.” (Zodhiates) Romans 5 gives us a clue as to how this is possible. “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” (verses 3-5) It’s all a big circle. God loves us. He pours His love in to us. We’re able to love others with His love and to keep on loving even in the midst of difficult circumstances. This strengthens our endurance and builds our hope.
The reason we can endure through every circumstance is tied to last week’s post on hope. Because we have confident hope that God will bring all things together for good, we can endure pain, suffering and persecution. Romans 12:12 says we, “rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.” Pain, suffering and persecution are not reasons to give up on love. James 1:12 encourages us that “God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” Endurance is a long-haul word. Times may be tough for a while, but in the end God has promised us the great reward He has for us. Jesus said “But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 24:13)
Hebrews 10:35 & 36 reminds us not to abandon our faith when things get tough. “So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.” God’s agape poured into our hearts will help us endure now. With so much going on in our world that is difficult, painful and leads to evil and suffering, love through hupomeno brings hope. We can love others by showing them how to endure now, with assurance that God has a plan and a reward for those who endure to the end.
My circumstances haven’t always been easy, yet I’ve known the deep satisfaction of persevering through all those circumstances for the long-term in my marriage, my family, my church and my ministry. There’s nothing like seeing your children become responsible adults or preschool students as adults leading worship in church. My husband and I are finding the comfort of living life together through hard times and good times, knowing we’re always there for each other. I only pray that with God’s strength and power I’ll be able to endure through our wicked world system with great hope and joy until the end. I know it will be so worth it. Hupomeno!
“May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 15:5,6)
Jenny's post is on her new website: http://jennylindconlee.com