Philippians 3:13-14 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
On your marks…… get set….. (gun shot)…… Hundreds of kids start off at the starting line and run towards the goal. Hundreds of cheering parents race to make it to the half-way mark just hoping to catch the eyes of their son/daughter to inspire them to run harder, faster. And the kids do. They respond when they hear their name and catch the glimpse of their parents clapping their hands, jumping up and down, cheering them on. Parents run off again, racing towards the finish line to again meet the eyes of their son/daughter and cheer them on through the finish line.
Some parents run along side of their children, who are too tired and do not think they are going to finish, just to give them that last little hope/inspiration to just keep running. Parents roar, “Don’t give up – you’re almost there – do you see it? Do you see the finish line? It’s just around the corner; it’s just up that hill.” Some of the kids are crying they feel exhausted; they cannot see the finish line and cannot hear the crowd cheering them from around the corner. But then something wells up inside of them and they being to run faster. Then, they hear it, the parents shouting, clapping, and cheering them down the grassy alley into the finish lane, and across the finish line.
Once all the kids that have already finished they gather back up around the finish line along side the parents and what seems like 10 minutes goes by with no one else coming. Everyone’s looking, but no one is there. Then suddenly from just over the hill a young mans head begins peering up, and up. His face is covered in sweat; he’s breathing deeply and running as hard as he can. With his frail face, bowed legs, and too skinny arms, he pushes himself forward. All the kids and parents begin to cheer, “you can do it, don’t give up, you’re almost there.” Riding along side of this young man is his mother on her bicycle also cheering. But over the loud-speaker we hear his name, “Josh you can do it, don’t give up, come on little buddy.” His handicap body has just run two miles. Tears are streaming down the parents faces as we realize we just witnessed a miracle. We got to cheer him on. We were part of his race.
Nobody could run that race for him, it was his to run. Sure, someone could have carried him but then he would have missed the opportunity to have finished the entire race with his own two feet. Such it is with suffering. It is yours. It is yours to experience, whether through your own choices you brought it upon yourself, or by no choice of your own, it is your suffering. The Bible does not promise us an easy life. The Bible actually says that in this life, there will be pain and suffering, but take heart for He has overcome the world!
That young man knew there would be an end to the race that he would cross that finish line but that it would not be easy. He was handicapped; he had braces on both ankles, and suffered with birth deformities. Life is not easy. We will experience suffering and when we do, we have a choice. Romans 5:2-4 “2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
Do we grow from the suffering or sit selfishly in self-pity and in-turn make everyone around us miserable? I choose to grow from my suffering today, which means I have to run the race. I cannot expect others to carry me through. I will be spurred on by my brothers and sisters in Christ who are cheering me on and loving me through the suffering. But it is my suffering. I must choose to grow from it or choose to wallow in it. How can any Christian not choose to grow when we have access through faith in Christ?
As Christians we are called to grow and mature in our relationship with Jesus Christ. Otherwise we let suffering defeat us. Stand UP! Are you suffering today? If you brought it upon yourself – CHANGE IT, STAND UP! KEEP RUNNING! You are NOT alone. God is riding along side of you and your brothers and sisters in Christ are cheering you on! Do not give up! The finish line is coming! Cry if you need to, laugh, if you need to, but just keep going! Don’t give up! Don’t give up! Don’t give up!!!
In Christ’s Love,