In 1914, the explorer Earnest Shackleton set out on his ship, the Endurance, with a crew of twenty-seven men, headed for the bottom of the earth. Their mission was to be the first to cross the Antarctic continent on land. However, their ship became trapped, crushed in polar pack ice, leaving them stranded.
Though Shackleton and his crew didn’t achieve their goal, the real story of this expedition is their survival after the loss of their ship. The crew was forced to abandon the Endurance, salvaging only the supplies they could carry. For two years, the men overcame numerous life-threatening challenges before facilitating their own rescue. Remarkably—some might say miraculously—not a single life was lost. The crew’s survival was undeniably due to Shackleton’s extraordinary leadership and ability to keep his men organized, motivated, and encouraged.
When the men returned home to England in 1916, despite the expedition’s failure to achieve its goal, all but four of the crew were awarded their country’s Polar Medal in recognition of their heroic survival.
The four who were not awarded the Polar Medal were not recognized at the insistence of Earnest Shackleton who said they had fallen short in the fulfillment of their responsibilities. How sad to have survived such an ordeal and fail to be rewarded!
Though I am uncertain of the religious affiliations of Shackleton’s men, I know they exhibited a principle that is essential to our journey as Christians and the one we will be exploring this week—perseverance. They did not quit or give up on their faith in their leader, despite extreme hardships, or they would not have survived. We can be encouraged and challenged by their example and by today’s reading to persevere in our own lives.
Lord Jesus, help us to be your faithful followers, persevering in faith, prayers, and praise. When we become discouraged, help us to look to you for the strength to continue. Amen.
The inability to have a child brings pain to many today, and this was equally true in ancient times. In that context it was sometimes even worse, for Peninnah openly ridicules Hannah for being unable to conceive. But as a result of Hannah's desperate, heartfelt prayer, God blesses her with a son, Samuel, who will become a powerful prophet. Hannah then rejoices in a God who exalts the poor and needy. Hannah provides an example of the boldness with which we also can approach God now because of Christ’s sacrifice. The destruction of Jerusalem is the focus of the passage in Mark. Jesus here predicts the demolition of the Temple and the city, which the Romans executed in 70 ce.
Read 1 Samuel 1:4-20. How do you persist in prayer when your prayer seems unanswered for a long time?
Read 1 Samuel 2:1-10. How do you express your joy and thanks when God answers your prayer?
Read Hebrews 10:11-25. What helps you to persevere in the practice of your faith?
Read Mark 13:1-8. What signs make you anxious about the future? What helps you to hold on to hope?
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