Your legs are churning and your heart is pounding. You’re 200 meters from the finish line and you feel great. You’re going to make it through, and it’s not just because you’ve found a great training plan, good nutrition, and extensive endurance training, it’s your drive and effort to finish the course.
In any contest, the important factor is not how we begin the competition, but who will finish the race and complete the course. Late in life, Paul declared, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness…” 2 Thessalonians 4:7,8
One of my favorite scriptures is Hebrews 12:1-3 reads:
“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 perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
Paul tells us that we are to “run with patience (endurance, persistence) the race set out before us, looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith…For consider Him that endured…lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” Hebrews 12:1-3
The dictionary defines endurance as:
- The fact or power of enduring or bearing pain, hardships, etc.: Through hard work and endurance, we will complete our goal.
- The ability or strength to continue or last, especially despite fatigue, stress, or other adverse conditions; stamina: A marathon tests a runner’s endurance.
- Lasting quality; duration: We will endure until the end.
Endurance implies the necessity of opposition. The need for endurance in the Christian life is crucial. When Jesus told the church to “hold fast what thou hast” and “hold fast…firm unto the end,” he was not telling them to remain at the same level of commitment and experience, but continue. We, too, must continue.
At times, all I feel I can do, is hold on when it would be easier to take a break, but I know that I must “press on toward the mark” (Philippians 3:14). When there is no strength left within me to complete the course, I know I must draw from an inner strength to keep me sustained. When I feel the tendency to look behind and be content with how far I’ve travelled (or become discouraged with the length of the way), I know I can look to Jesus. He is able to keep me from falling and when I do fall, I must learn to get up again, and continue.
Just remember during your race that Jesus did not quit when the going got tough. In his place of greatest need, stretched out on that cruel cross, his confession was “I am not finished,” but rather, “It (his task here on earth) is finished!” Here was a declaration of victory, not a confession of defeat. So remember during the race, or battle you are facing, don’t give up!