Written for WoodsEdge Community Church Women’s Ministry Devotionals
“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.” Romans 5:3-5
This past Saturday morning, before the sun had yet to rise, four thousand runners gathered upon the streets for the annual The Woodlands Marathon. Runners from forty different states and several different countries, all ready to begin the race set before them. Elite, seasoned, and first-time marathoners and half marathoners high-fiving each other with encouraging words and mutual respect. The electricity that fills the air on race day is unique and part of what ignites the runners with excitement and an adrenaline rush that keeps them coming back to this challenging sport time and time again.
This particular race marked my second half marathon to complete. As I ran the 13.1 miles on Saturday, I was filled with thoughts of how far I had come since beginning my running journey, and of the many parallels and metaphors the Bible expresses about running the race. Doing a half marathon was a bucket list item that I never thought I’d actually complete. When I began training two years ago, I struggled through just one mile. Seeing through to the end, seemed crazy and possibly unattainable. However, I kept training. I kept pushing.
Training is hard, and at times painful! But here’s the thing. Pushing through created incredible endurance. An endurance that I didn’t know I had in me. It is a trait which had to be strengthened, coached, taught, and experienced in order to thrive. Just as Romans 5:3-5 states, the endurance that grew, created new character in me as well. I’m stronger mentally and much more joyful. And get this, I literally have a newfound hope.
Biblical parallels can be found in every step I took.
Be encouraged in whatever race you are racing! Whether it’s running a marathon or being a master at needle point. Whether it’s facing the challenges of parenting, or the sufferings of infertility. Whether it’s saving your marriage or single living.
No matter what area of life you find yourself in, we all experience suffering. Sometimes it’s so debilitating and we don’t even have the words to pray. I’ve been there. But you are stronger than you think. Lean on the father amidst the suffering and when you feel that there is nothing to be thankful for, then thank him for his attributes. The father’s arms are strong, and his grace is sufficient. Thank him for being mighty, thank him for joy only he can bring. Thank him for being the provider, peacemaker, joy-bringer, forgiver, Holy-One!
In many areas of my life I can offer living proof that suffering really does bring endurance. Not just as a marathoner, but as a divorced woman, as a cancer survivor, and a loss overcomer.
Your endurance will bring strong character, and it will bring a hope like never before. When you cross the final finish line, God will rejoice with you. He might say “Great race, my child! You have been hurt along the way, you fell down, were bumped and bruised. You had to stop and be refreshed a few times, but you finished strong! You endured and you persevered! Welcome across the finish line!”