I read this yesterday:
But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings, partly by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated. For you showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one. Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.
“For yet in a very little while,
He who is coming will come, and will not delay.
But my righteous one shall live by faith;
And if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.”
But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul. (Hebrews 10:32-39)
I was struck by the phrase “you have need of endurance”. The people addressed in this letter had once joyfully endured persecution, but now they were getting weary of believing. Their determination was flagging. The writer exhorts them to keep hanging on until the end.
One of the things I’m struggling with these days is having faith. In my daily life, I keep encountering things that overwhelm me with fear and I just give up for a day or two. God keeps pulling me back to the place where I have to make a conscious decision to trust him again and move on in joy.
The challenges to my faith are not big things, not major persecution or anything. Just things like a class that didn’t go well, or a car that broke down and will cost more than we have to fix it, or having to confront someone about their sin when it makes me very uncomfortable to do so. What God seems to ask me to do is not just follow through but do so with confidence and joy.
The interesting thing is that having faith like that – choosing to trust and stop worrying – is exhausting for me. I find myself completely worn out at the end of the day if I’ve done well. I can’t quite figure out why. My suspicion is that fear and other strong emotions are pulling hard at me at a deep, mostly subconscious level, and I’m spending all day fighting them off without quite realizing it. Because of that, having faith these days is literally hard work.
Things ought to get easier with practice. Whatever emotional resistance I’m encountering these days will eventually be trained out of my default psychological setting, and believing with joy will come more naturally. That’s what character growth often consists of.
I think it’s interesting that faith can be tiring. I haven’t heard other Christians say they’ve experienced this, but I’ll bet a lot of them have. I think the taxing nature of faith is linked in some way to several Scriptures besides the one above, such as: Luke 22:40-46 (note v 45), Romans 4:18-21, Galatians 6:9, or James 1:2-4.