July 19, 2013 by Pastor Ben McIntire
It is done! “I have run the race,” as Paul says in 2 Timothy 4:7, though he and I are talking about different things. Paul is referring to his missionary work for the Lord Jesus, I only mean that I finished my triathlon on Sunday. It was a beautiful day for July in Omaha, still in the 70’s at the end of the race. And it was fun to compete, swimming, biking, and running along with the other athletes, most in far better shape than I. The disappointing thing for me, was that I stepped on a piece of glass on my way into the lake for the swim at the very beginning of the race. That tiny puncture on the bottom of my left foot hurt, but caused no problem for the swim or bike portions, but trying to run on it was impossible. Yet I did not want to give up; I wanted to finish, even if it meant limping along for three miles. You might say, I “ran with perseverance the race laid out for me,” to quote the Letter to the Hebrews. Here is Hebrews 12:1-3:
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.
I love this passage as a motivational speech for endurance in living a Christian life. There are so many times when we are overwhelmed by our responsibilities, finances, health concerns, family and relationship problems, and all sorts of other stuff. It’s easy to despair in the face of “everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.” But the Bible tells us that if we remember Jesus and fix our eyes and thoughts on him, we will gain perspective. Jesus suffered physically, far more than most of us ever will. And even more, Jesus suffered spiritually, taking on the sins of the whole world in himself and putting them to death as he died on the cross.
This is not to say to us, “Jesus could handle suffering, so buck up and quit crying; it’s not so bad.” Rather, when we remember what God went through, both in the body of Jesus and in God’s own Spirit, we should realize that God knows and understands human suffering. God has compassion for us! And the promise that God has made to us is that he will walk with us as we endure the suffering, pain, and hardships of life. We are not alone, abandoned or left for dead. God swooped down from Heaven to walk among us as Jesus of Nazareth, and he holds us still.
I’m including a clip from Ironman 3, which (unintentionally, I’m sure) seems to illustrate how God cares for us, rescues us, bears us up and does not let us go. Enjoy!
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for hearing my laments when I am in pain and suffering in mind, body or spirit. Help me to fix my eyes on Jesus and look for your comforting hand in times of trouble, that I might endure and trust in your steadfast love. In Jesus’ name, amen.