Central Idea: Endurance is not just the ability to bear a hard thing, but to transform it into glory.

“I have set my face like flint.”

It is the moment when we are most human and most vulnerable, yet ironically it is also the moment when we are also most blessed, we are closest to God.  Sometimes that moment is small, quiet, imperceptible to others, yet still stings, hurts, it still damages. At other times, it’s huge and demands the utmost out of us, our full attention, everything we got. We just may be in such a moment right now. It is the moment in our lives when we are called to endure, the point in our lives when we have to do a gut check, when we have to bear down, persist and carry on.

It is the fourth quarter of a football game and the fourth quarter of an academic semester.

It is a seemingly endless schedule of meetings (now with Zoom or Google Hangout) and it is something that we face alone all by ourselves.

It is an endless vigil at the deathbed of a loved one and it’s figuring out how you will carry on without them.

So many people run from this moment, numb themselves to it, resist it.  They cannot handle it.  They cannot stomach it.  They have no fortitude, no stamina, no grit, no courage, no strength, no will power, no faith.

But here’s the catch and we are discovering this vividly at the present moment: This moment is inevitable in all of our lives. We do not have the luxury of running away from life, we cannot hide.  So, the question is not will we face it, but how will we face it.

It is that same moment that Jesus exhibits for us today on Passion Sunday in his suffering and death, his way of the cross.  As always, we who look to Jesus as our standard bearer, as well as our model. He is the one who set his face like flint as he plodded towards Calvary.

And so we come to prayer in these extraordinary times, we pray for strength, endurance, persistence, patience, hope. We pray especially for doctors, nurses, paramedics, health care providers, police officers, firemen, hospital administrators, grocers, truck drivers, any and all of the front lines of this pandemic. May they continue strong and healthy.

And for those who can see the long view, for those who can keep their eyes on the prize, for those people of faith, know that God comes to upbuild, to fortify, to brace us against whatever we may face.

Holy Week has always gut check time, even in the best and easiest of times.  It is a time when we push a bit harder than usual, we demand from ourselves a bit more.  We set our faces like flint, grit our teeth and face our destiny and fate with a determination and resolved that can only come, only come from Almighty God.  It is especially so, this year.

This endurance produces glory, it produces joy, it produces splendor and blessing.

Even in these desperate times, as we walk the path of Calvary, the path of struggle, difficulty, hardship and even death, we still, against all odds, await new life.

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