When I was younger, I was really into cross-country running. I was never much of a sprinter… my legs just couldn’t seem to propel me for such short distances. But somehow, I found that I had a knack for long-distance running. I loved crossing different terrains during the run, squelching through mud, jumping over fallen tree trunks, and dodging boulders and rocks. There was something so rewarding about running a long race filled with many obstacles and reaching the end.
Running long distances also taught me much about what I needed to succeed and to finish the race well. I needed to work hard, to be dedicated, and to stay motivated. The greatest thing I needed was endurance. When my legs felt hot and weary, and my lungs pleaded with me to give up, I knew that I needed to endure. I knew that if I held on – if I endured –
I would make it to the finish line.
Hebrews 12:1-2 likens our lives as believers to a race. It is not a sprint, but it is a marathon. It is a long-distance, cross-country run. It is a race with many terrains, some smooth and some bumpy. It is a race which will sometimes require us to wade through the mud. And it is a race filled with obstacles and trials and difficulties.
The Letter to the Hebrews is a bit like a sermon which describes those who are considering leaving the faith due to extreme persecution. When we read today’s passage in its context, it is so much weightier. Dear friend, the author of Hebrews urges his readers to “run with endurance the race that is set before us” in the face of these obstacles and hardships.
God has set before each of us a race that we must run. It will involve hard work, determination, motivation, and most importantly endurance. As weary as we may feel, and as much as our minds and bodies scream, “Give up, give up!”, we can and must endure to the end.
This word for endurance in ancient Greek ‘does not mean the patience which sits down and accepts things, but the patience which masters them… It is a determination, unhurrying and yet undelaying, which goes steadily on and refuses to be deflected.’ (John Barclay)
If today you feel weary and exhausted, tempted to give up on this race you’re running for God, it is our prayer that the Lord would give you the strength and endurance you need to run your race. We pray that God would give you the patience to master all of the things that you are facing right now. And we pray for a divine determination in you that you may not give up but that you will finish your race.
Take a moment and join us in prayer.
Lord Jesus, I am feeling so weary and exhausted in this race I am running. On a daily basis, I am so tempted to give up. My body and my mind plead with me to surrender and to give in.
And yet, You have said in Your word that I can run this race and finish it well. But, Lord Jesus, I really need endurance. Please come to my aid, Lord Jesus. Please fill me with Your strength, patience, and determination today.
Please help me to hold on and to endure.
I love You, Lord.
In Your name, Jesus, I pray, amen.