I’ve been thinking a lot about this verse in recent days. The reason is I’m training to compete in the Melbourne Ironman Triathlon in 2014. It’s a gruelling multi-sport, one day event that is filled with weeping and gnashing of teeth as competitors complete a 3.8km swim, 180km bike ride and 42km marathon run just to finish you off.
Each day that I train for this event, as well as several half-Ironman races leading up to the big kahuna, I constantly have to keep coming back to this verse and remind myself to never give up. Every time I swim, bike, run, lift weights, eat healthy and focus on recovery, I have to keep the big picture in mind and remember that although I may endure pain and suffering for a moment, the end result of crossing that finish line is well worth it.
The Psalmist said it like this, ‘Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning.’
The Apostle Paul in several of his letters used athletic imagery to point to spiritual principles relevant to all of us in the race of faith. Perhaps the most famous words Paul used in this context is 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. In summary Paul calls us to run the race of faith to win… Don’t run merely to finish but finish well. To do so requires focus and discipline, no matter what discouragement or temptation comes our way.
Running the race of faith requires us to get over our petty excuses and focus ourselves on seeing the race God has called us to right through to the very end. Everyone at some point thinks and feels like quitting and sadly some of us do and spend years living with the pain of regret. Don’t give into your flesh but stay the course. It will be worth it in the end, even if you’ve got to grit your teeth and push yourself through the discomfort.
God’s watching and perhaps your refusal to never give up could lead to your finest hour.