Endurance shines as the hallmark of the prophets, the lodestone of the prophetic. Those who are willing to endure when endurance looks insane, has no hope of prevailing, consumes everything else in its path, are those who know a greater truth, a more promising hope, a truer way to wholeness than the world around them has to offer. That kind of endurance is of God. It transcends human concerns and demands human attention. That kind of endurance holds on to the divine in life even when life itself gives in to making gods of gold in deserts of sand. Prophetic endurance holds on, cries out, speaks up, stands pat whatever the pressure, however long the time, until, whether or not they agree, people listen and think.
Prophetic endurance is made of stiffer steel than political approval and social acceptance. Prophetic endurance lasts far beyond its time, makes itself an irritating presence, holds the real up to the ideal until the sight of the contrast hurts.
The endurance of prophets demands the kind of dogged commitment that refuses to conform to anything less than the mind of God for the people of the world. This is a time for normal, compassionate people to foster endurance as well.
It is a dangerous moment in United States history. The real and the ideal are in constant conflict around us. What we tell ourselves we are about as a society; history far too often belies.
Is the situation salvageable? Can lost ideals be reclaimed in the face of a rampant and deteriorating realism? Of course, they can. The names of hope are legion among us. But the moral decline of the society can only be finally and fully reversed on one condition: that we each learn to turn moral concern into prophetic endurance. Each of us must speak up, speak out, and speak for justice and peace at every card club, every town meeting, every private party. We must persist until we become again what we have always wanted to be, until we all stand more for the truths of the gospel than for the goals of the government.