Each morning, whether it’s light, dark, warm, or bitter cold, a woman jogs past my house. I admit that, while I applaud her discipline and fortitude, I’m not tempted to join her. Ever since I was forced to run in gym class, rewarded only with painful side stitches, I decided running was not for me. Yet, the Bible teaches that God calls us all to be runners in this race of life and endurance is a really big theme.
The dictionary defines endurance as the ability or strength to continue or last, despite fatigue, stress, or other adverse conditions: stamina. Synonyms include sufferance, forbearance, patience, and acceptance.
We all know of people who have endured conditions and circumstances that tested every ounce of their human strength. Yet God calls us to something more than simply gritting our teeth in determination to beat whatever threatens to destroy us. Rather, He calls us to run life’s race with joyful endurance; not in our strength, but His, not so the world will notice, but for His glory. To that end, using fiery trials and suffering to expose weakness and sin, He trains us to run with all His energy so He can display His power through us.
The truth is that, while suffering always tests our endurance, sometimes it’s the day-to-day obedience that challenges us most. Running well while parenting young children, working in a job we don’t enjoy, caring for elderly parents, waiting to find the right man to marry, battling illness, and so on, requires patient perseverance that flows out of trust in God’s love and goodness.
The gospel has much to say about running with endurance, encouraging those who wonder where God is or how He will possibly bring good out of the trial they are suffering. Remembering that Christ is preparing a future filled with unimaginable joy for us will renew our strength. Let this and the truths below refresh and motivate you to press on toward the finish line in faith.
1. As believers, we have been chosen and called to run with endurance the race God set for us, (John 15:19, 1 Peter 2:21, Revelation 14:12).
Do you understand that your life and circumstances are not random? God has appointed everything to bring the greatest joy and blessing when it is received with trust in His goodness and wisdom.
Imagine! Almighty God chose you, calling you out of the darkness of your sin and into the glorious light of the gospel. That means, no matter how hard our race gets; we can trust God’s purposes in assigning it, knowing that it’s preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond comparison!
“For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that He has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction” 1 Thessalonians 1:4.
2. We need endurance so that when we have done the will of God we may receive what is promised, Hebrews 10:36.
Jesus endured the cross to restore our relationship with God that was broken by sin. He went to Calvary, anticipating the everlasting joy of sharing His inheritance with us in heaven. In anticipation of that same joy, let us fix our eyes on our Savior, leaning into every trial that helps us build endurance, knowing there is a reward for those who finish the race.
To that end, the writer of Hebrews exhorts us; don’t throw away your confidence! Live by faith! Even if circumstances seem hopeless and impossible, we have a Mighty God who has power to save, deliver, and heal. He simply calls us to trust Him and walk by faith.
3. Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons and daughters. Hebrews 12.
As every parent knows, children typically resist discipline and only maturity enables us to eventually be thankful for parents who loved us enough to do what was right rather than what was easy or popular. Those who grow in character find blessing comes to them in the end.
But when we resist the loving discipline of God, holding onto worldly weights and the sin of unbelief, our progress will be impeded, slowing our growth in character, and dulling the hope and joy that’s ours in Christ.
As we focus on all Christ has done to help us run victoriously, trusting His hand of discipline in our lives; our strength will increase, our pace will pick up, and God will use us to serve Him in places we never dreamed.
4. Christ empowers us to run with endurance when we have no strength of our own.
Do you ever feel weary of running? I do. Life is hard, often seeming to kick us when we’re already down. We feel like giving up.
The gospel compels and empowers us to keep on going. Jesus endured the cross, defeating sin and death, then gave us His Spirit and Word, providing us with everything we need to run the race He’s ordained for us.
But what does running well look like in the midst of pain, grief, boredom, fear, disappointment, hurt, unmet desires, and the other realities of life?
- Running well requires taking our eyes off our insufficiency in the midst of hard circumstances and putting them on Christ’s sufficiency.
- Running well means we stop comparing ourselves to others, who seem to have a better life than we do, and thank God for the life He’s given us.
- Running well demands a glad surrender and acceptance of God’s plan for our lives, no matter how far it is from what we expected.
When we practice doing these things, we will find ourselves running well. And when others ask the source of our strength, it will be the perfect opportunity to tell them about the gospel.
5. Faithful believers who have gone before us motivate us to keep running with endurance.
Hebrews 11 provides an impressive list of believers who endured by looking to something better than what the world had to offer them. I thank God for the witness of men and women who have inspired me to keep running by their faithful testimony. As I read about their lives and the influence they had, it drives me more deeply into God’s Word and prayer.
The gospel alone will empower us to finish strong and leave a legacy for those coming behind us. What a privilege to be instrument of God’s grace in the lives of our children, grandchildren, and those we love. May our faith encourage and strengthen them when their own faith is tested.
The great thing about this race of life is that, in Christ, we are all winners! So today, if you are weary, call upon the Lord to renew your strength. Ask others to pray and walk closely with you until you get your footing again. But do press on, dear sister, because we will no longer have need for endurance when Christ meets us at the finish line! And being with Him will be worth it all.
“May you be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light” Colossians 1:11-12.
Thanks for letting me share my thoughts with you,