How do we develop the enduring kind of patience? Our lesson quotes James 1: 2 – 4 to give us the answer,
"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing" (James 1:2–4, NKJV).
The word patience here is from the Greek hupomone, which means, endurance, steadfastness, and fortitude of every affliction that one confronts on one's spiritual journey. The word Paul uses in Galatians 5:22 is macrothumia – translated as longsuffering - which essentially means "long tempered" as opposed to short tempered.
Although, hupomone is not part of the fruit of the Spirit, it is nevertheless very important in our walk of Faith. According to James, it is through trials that we develop the endurance to continually overcome unbelief and remain faithful to God. Our lesson states about this,
'The Greek word for "trials," sometimes translated "temptations," is the word peirazo, which has the broader significance of "proving" or "testing." The devil tries us or tempts us to do evil. The tests and trials that God allows to come into our lives are for the purpose of developing our characters.' Ellen G. White talks about this,
"The trials of life are God's workmen, to remove the impurities and roughness from our character. Their hewing, squaring, and chiseling, their burnishing and polishing, is a painful process; it is hard to be pressed down to the grinding wheel. But the stone is brought forth prepared to fill its place in the heavenly temple. Upon no useless material does the Master bestow such careful, thorough work. Only His precious stones are polished after the similitude of a palace."—Ellen G. White, Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 10.
This doesn't mean, however, that every trial is in God's providence. Often we bring suffering upon ourselves through disobedience; often, too, trials and suffering are just the results of what it means to live in a fallen, sinful world where we have an enemy who hates us (1 Pet. 5:8). What this does mean, however, is that through a complete surrender of ourselves to the Lord, to grasping hold of Him in faith and obedience, no matter what we go through, we can come out better or more refined if we allow God to work in us. No one said it will be fun. Life here often isn't fun, but we are given this wonderful promise: "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:6).
One good example of how trials help develop endurance is Daniel and his friends. It was through trials that they develop the enduring patience that gave them the victory. Now, when we think of Daniel and his friends going through trials we probably immediately think of the fiery furnace and the Lion's den. And, this was indeed, moments in their respective lives when their faith was tested and they were victorious by the grace of God. But, this trial was not there first one. The first trial was actually while still in Jerusalem. In Jeremiah 38: 17 – 21 Jeremiah tells the King of Judah to surrender to the King of Babylon and "it shall be well unto thee, and thy soul shall live" (Jeremiah 38: 20). Those who did as God asked, to surrender to the Babylonian king, it went well with them. Those that did not were either injured or killed. Daniel and his friends surrendered to the King of Babylon.
You could argue that the second trial was prophesied by Isaiah. This was after Hezekiah failed to give God glory for his miraculous healing, and instead took the glory for himself and showed the Babylonians all that was in the house. Isaiah predicted in 2 King 20:17 – 18,
2Ki20:17 Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store unto this day, shall be carried into Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the LORD.
2Ki20:18 And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.
Put bluntly, Daniel and his friends were castrated. Daniel then narrates how he and his friends refused to eat out the King's table. The foods were rich and sacrificed to idols. They did not want their appetite to lead them astray. In chapter two Daniel and his friends are facing death, unless they can retell the King his dream and interpret it. Their faithfulness pays out. They prayed and fast for God to deliver them out of that situation. Again, they remained faithful through that trial. Chapter 3 brings the climax for Daniel's friends. All Babylon was ordered to bow down to the statue of Nebuchadnezzar. All, but Daniel's friends bowed down. For their faithfulness they were put in the fiery furnace. But, Christ delivered them out of it, without even a burnt hair.
Where were the other Jewish youngsters that came with Daniel and his friends? They were probably bowing down to the statue. Their unfaithfulness in appetite led them to deny God and instead worship a living idol. They were probably just trying to fit in. They were not patient as Daniel and his friends were. They discovered that trusting God no matter what trial came their way is better than trying to please others. Are we trusting God?