How often are we unprepared for this bumps and bruises in this race we're called to as believers? How often are we caught off guard by struggle, grief, sadness, fear, persecution?
Matthew 7:13-14 says, "Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few."
Over and over in Scripture, our journey as a believer is compared to that of a race. As I ran today, it was all I could think of. Sometimes it's hard. Really hard.
There are days we are literally crawling as we inch our way to the finish line. It's in those moments you feel the arms of the Lord around you in ways you haven't before. Psalm 147:3 says, "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." Psalm 73:26 says, "My flesh and my heart may fail, but You, O GOD, You are the Strength of my heart and my Portion forever!
Sometimes the pain is so intense you really just want to give up. It's in those moments you remember that, as believers, we're committing our lives to sharing in His sufferings. And in that, He is our comforter. 1 Corinthians 1:3-5 says, "Blessed be the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too."
Other times you're so numb to it that you feel as though life is a blur. You fell dead and detached. But Jesus, in His faithfulness, rises above that and brings restoration and redemption. Psalm 23:1-4 says, "The LORD is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me."
And still, other times...the times that make you realize how incredible and faithful He is and how marvelously and brokenly beautiful this whole journey is...you see small glimpses of hope. You rise with His strength. You rejoice in His joy. Romans 5:2-5 says, "Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does NOT put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."
There's no other race I'd rather be on. I cannot imagine life without my Jesus. Every day I'm more and more blown away that HE CHOSE ME. How incredible is that grace? That Jesus...rich in His mercy...chose to die and save. While we were against Him! Romans 5:8 says, "But God shows His love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Incredible grace. That same grace and faithfulness is what gives us strength as we run this race.
Let's do this friends. With the arms of Jesus lifting us, let's do this. Let's persevere. Let's race!
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.