Enduring God’s Blessing
James 5:11 Behold, we count them happy which endure.
Do you like to eat? Few humans survive without food. Eating is one of humanity’s favorite pastimes. Logically then, someone has to endure the labor of producing a harvest so we can all enjoy full bellies. Some enjoy such efforts, while others take the attitude of the farm animals who told the Little Red Hen, “Not I.”
Raising good kids takes a lot of work. We want to see them be responsible citizens. We want polite, happy kids. We want our sons and daughters to have sweet-smelling attitudes and not rotten pride or rudeness. We want to enjoy the full flavor of diligent, obedient kids.
Like the pig, cat, duck, and other farm animals who dreaded the work of planting the grain, grinding it, mixing it, kneading it, and baking it, some dads dread the challenges of addressing issues in the home. Others explode and, rather than be personally involved, issue ultimatums, ground the kids, or order momma to deal with them.
But when we see someone who has a kid that seems well-balanced and refreshing, we desire a piece of that in our homes. God has given us a job to do. Enjoyable kids take prayer, training, and patience. Begrudging fathers produce half-baked kids.
Endurance doesn’t mean we put up with a brat until he’s finally old enough to move out of the house (and shack up with a girlfriend). Endurance means we decide to take the fatherhood challenge for the long-haul. Children are a blessing and a gift from God. But we must be willing to endure the process of shaping them into something that everyone else sees as a blessing, too.
God blessed Abram and Sarai with a son. He brought joy and hope into their aged lives. However, Daddy Abe had to protect his son from a bully, teach him how to run a business, show him how to worship God, and instruct him on how to deal with the heathen. Isaac was a blessing not just because he came from God, but because he had a dad who cared.
Endurance isn’t about what you “put up with.” It’s about what you “put into.”
Putting up with It All
Last time, Rusty and Misty were headed to the church to help Mom with wedding preparations for a couple in the church.
Rusty sat down to watch Mom decorate the wedding cake. She set the big cake on the table and began to stick little butterflies into the icing.
“Can I help put on butterflies?” he asked.
Mom shook her head. “I’ll let you practice on some other cake, but this one has to come out just right.” When she finished setting colorful butterflies all around the cake, she picked up a bag of colored icing and began making flowers on the rim of the cake.
“Could I do that?” Rusty asked.
Mom shook her head. “This is pretty tricky. I’ll let you try doing some later.”
Rusty set his chin in his hands and stared at the table.
“You could find something to do in the kitchen where your sister is helping Sis. Hunter,” Mom told him.
Rusty shrugged. “This is taking forever. How long until it is over?”
Mom had finished decorating the first cake layer. “Here, open up that bag with the white plastic pillars.”
Rusty opened it and handed them to his mother who stood them up on the big cake layer. Then she set the next tier of cake on top of the pillars. Rusty handed Mom more pillars. These she stood up and set the last layer of cake on. Then she opened a box and pulled out a little bride and little groom that she stuck on top of the highest cake layer.
Mom walked around the cake and looked at it closely. She stuck in a couple more butterflies. “Whew!” she said at last. “It’s finished.”
“Can we go home now?” Rusty asked.
Mom smiled. “We’re not done yet. We’ve got to set up the rest of the reception hall.”
Rusty rolled his eyes and moaned, “I’m bored.”
“What?” Dad said from behind him. “You’re bored? Didn’t you know that only boring people get bored?”
Rusty looked up at him. “Hey, you’re off work!”
Dad ruffed up Rusty’s hair and asked, “How can you be bored when there is so much to do?”
Dad said, “Come on, let’s see what we can find to do.” Rusty got up and followed him into the church kitchen where Misty was helping Sis. Hunter make a big bowl of red punch. “Hello, Sis. Hunter. How are you this evening?”
“Oh, were fine. Misty is being a big help in here.”
“Great,” Dad said. “Rusty here wants to be a big help, too. He doesn’t want to be bored.”
“Oh dear, we don’t want anyone to be bored around here,” Sis. Hunter said with a laugh. “Okay, Rusty, how would you like to help set all the tables?”
Sis. Hunter opened a cupboard and pulled out a package of small plates, a box of plastic forks, and a package of napkins with little butterflies on them.
Dad and Rusty took the supplies out into the fellowship hall. “Okay, Rusty, how about if I put out the plates, and you put out the napkins?”
“I bet I’ll get all my plates out before you get your napkins done.”
“Oh yeah?” Rusty said, as he ripped open the package of napkins.
The two of them began setting the tables, hurrying around each other, up one row of tables and down the next.
Before long, all of the tables were set. Dad beat Rusty with putting out the plates. But when they split up the number of forks, Rusty beat Dad. The two of them finished, laughing and high-fiving each other.
“Whew! That was pretty boring. Wasn’t it, Rusty?”
“No, that was fun!”
“See, we turned a boring evening into something we enjoyed. You can chose to be bored, or you can choose to have a good time. The only difference is you, Son.”
Rusty nodded. “Thanks, Dad.”
When Misty finished helping in the kitchen, she said she felt very tired. Since she had just gotten over her sickness, Dad decided to take her home and put her to bed.
Rusty got changed into his nice clothes and sat through the wedding. Afterwards, he was feeling bored again because none of his friends were there. Then he remembered what Dad had said. So, Rusty walked over to the punch bowl and began helping serve people their drinks.
When the party was almost over, Sis. Hunter looked at Rusty and said, “You’ve been a wonderful helper today, young man. Come here, I think I have something for you.”
Rusty followed her into the kitchen.
She put some cake on a plate and then opened the freezer. “Do you like cookies-n-cream ice cream?”
Rusty nodded. “Yes, ma’am.”
“Well, here then.” She scooped a big glob of ice cream onto his plate with the cake and said, “Get a fork!”
How does this story go with our memory verse?
Love endures all things.
What is endurance?
Happily putting up with difficult situations or people.
What was Rusty enduring?
What did Rusty’s mom endure?
The work of making the cake look good.
When Rusty felt bored after the wedding, what did he do to help himself endure a little longer?
Helped serve the punch to people.
What do you struggle to endure?
Enduring a Pest
So He told a parable to those who were invited, when He noted how they chose the best places, saying to them:
“When you are invited by anyone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in the best place, lest one more honorable than you be invited by him; and he who invited you and him come and say to you, ‘Give place to this man,’ and then you begin with shame to take the lowest place.
“But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher.’ Then you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Luke 14:7-11 from New King James Version, © 1983 Thomas Nelson. Used with permission.
What does this parable tell us about putting others first?
What about trying to get the window seat in the car?
Have you ever been in a situation where you got “put down” when you were thinking about yourself?
When have you put someone else first and benefited from it, too, like Rusty did with Misty?
Role play: You have been saving up for some new shoes. Finally you have enough money to buy the pair. When you arrive at the store, you go to pick out the shoes just as someone else picks up the last pair in your size. What do you do?
Older ones: You have planned out your evening for a time of relaxation. Your friend calls needing help study for school or getting advice for a project. What do you do?
Do we always get rewarded right away for putting others first?