You know we call those blessed who were steadfast and endured. You have heard of the patient endurance of Job and you have seen the Lord’s outcome. The Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.
This life is a marathon. In the world of competitive ultrarunning, the Four Deserts Ultramarathon Series is arguably the most grueling race. The series consists of four ultramarathons run throughout the course of the year. Each race requires runners to complete 155 miles over the course of seven days. This takes not only an incredible amount of discipline but an unreal measure of endurance. In fact, it is so difficult to complete all four races over the course of a year that only 78 people have done it since the series began in 2008. Beyond the physical ability to finish the Four Deserts grand slam, what matters most is one’s desire to endure to the end. Spending hours and hours alone racing through a desert will show who really wants to make it to the end. It is similar to the endurance that we must exhibit when following God means that we must stand alone in this world.
This life gives us many outs. As time goes on, and as the culture of the world moves further and further from God, we Christians will be increasingly challenged to throw in the towel. Yes, we have our brothers and sisters beside us to help us and encourage us. However, we will face many instances in which we must stand alone in defense of God and his truth. There will be much testing of our faith, and that only serves to increase us spiritually. What we must consider is whether we have the desire to endure to the end. If that desire is there, we know that we have the resource within us to make it. Scripture commands us to run with endurance the race set before us. Ironically, it is God who gives us that endurance. We cannot develop this within ourselves, but we can pursue God so that the Holy Spirit increases endurance within us.
I used to prefer to run on a track instead of running on a trail. One reason for this preference was that I could more accurately measure my distance. The other more compelling reason was that, if I decided not to run the entire distance, I could simply walk off the track and be back where I started. If I ran on a trail, quitting meant that I still would have to cover the distance it took to return to my starting point. If I truly desired to show endurance, and I had the attitude of finishing my run from the start, there would be no consideration of quitting. I simply would run with the expectation that the distance I set would be the distance I complete. When we decide to follow Jesus Christ, we must be committed to finishing the race from the beginning. Otherwise, we may find it too tempting to bow out when we are pressed. Father, please continue to increase our endurance and our desire to finish the race so that we may complete it with success.