August 4, 2004
Encouragement for Today
Running with Endurance
Glynnis Whitwer, Senior Editor P31 Woman, Speaker for Proverbs 31 Ministries
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us." Hebrews 12:1 (NLT)
My husband, Tod, recently ran his first marathon. Seeing as how I can't run around the block without having to go to the bathroom, I was very proud of my beloved and quite impressed with his accomplishment.
His preparation for the race was grueling and organized. He first read a book on marathon running and mapped out his five-month training plan using an Excel spreadsheet. Every week he increased his running distance till he was ready for the big day.
I'm happy to say that my husband finished the race within minutes of his expected time. To say that after all that planning and training the race was easy, would be giving the wrong impression. At mile 23, when the mean race planners (at least that's what Tod called them) took the route up a hill, my husband felt like quitting. It took every ounce of commitment and energy to finish that race. But finish he did.
The Christian life is like a marathon. It, too, can be grueling at times. We think we've trained enough, but when our hearts are broken, or our bodies and emotions drained, we can feel like quitting. When we just can't forgive one more person, we might want to sit down on the sidelines, saying "This is too much - I can't go on."
When Christians feel like giving up, they might quit going to church regularly, their Bible sits closed, their prayer life wavers, and even fellowship with other believers can lessen.
God knows how difficult life is. He knows what our personal race route looks like. He knows where we have hills that seem too difficult to climb. Knowing we will face difficulties, how can we run this life with endurance when it gets tough?
One of the best ways to persevere is to decide in advance that you won't quit when things get tough. My husband determined that he would finish the race before he ever left the starting line. Quitting wasn't an option - even when his legs were aching, his lungs were burning and he was surprised by a hill.
When you decide in advance that you will stay true to your faith and your commitments, you can face the difficult days and the times when God seems distant. When you choose in advance to trust God, even when you can't explain your circumstances, your faith grows. It is awesome when you come through a challenge and can look back and see how God worked through it all.
Set your eyes on Heaven and trust God's goodness, and when you face your personal hill, you'll see it as a stairway to greater intimacy with God, instead of a reason to quit the race.
My prayer for today:
Heavenly Father, I praise you for your faithfulness and goodness. Forgive the times I have given up when things got tough. Thank you for giving me new chances every day to grow closer to you. I ask for a renewed conviction to run the race you have set before me with endurance. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Identify difficult situations that make you want to pull back from your Christian walk.
Make a commitment to the Lord to stick through the hard times.
What are some similarities between a marathon and the Christian life?
What is the finish line for a Christian?
What are some of the benefits of finishing the race that God has set before us?
Identify two or three areas in your life that bring discouragement to your Christian walk.
What can you do when you feel like giving up in a certain area?
"Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain." I Corinthians 15:58 (NRSV)
"Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus." 2 Timothy 2:3 (NIV)
"May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from His glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light." Colossians 1:11-12 (NRSV)
"You were running superbly! Who cut in on you, deflecting you from the true course of obedience? This detour doesn't come from the One who called you into the race in the first place." Galatians 5:7-8 (The Message)
"...we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." Romans 5:3-4 (NIV)
P31 Woman Magazine by Proverbs 31 Ministries
Radically Obedient, Radically Blessed, by Lysa TerKeurst
Becoming a Woman Who Listens to God by Sharon Jaynes