There is real joy in completing something. It might be as simple as a jigsaw puzzle or as serious as a marriage, but there is joy in completing the course.
I like what Oswald Chambers said, "God never promised us an easy passage, just a safe landing." That is really true. So much of life is filled with challenge and difficulty. There is much temptation to give up at times. Joy is the prize for the finisher.
My sophomore year in HS I experienced just that joy. I was running in the 4x400 relay at the CIF finals. It was perfect. Nighttime, rubber track, 2,000 fans watching and 1 goal: beat my personal best (PR) and earn my varsity letter!
I was the anchor leg of the relay. When I finally got the baton I was 10th out of 10 teams. I took off trying to catch anybody and to break my PR. It was an event to remember. I passed the first runner coming out of turn 1. I passed the second runner on the back stretch. I passed a third and fourth runner in turn 2. And then it happened ..............
I tore my stomach muscle. The pain was radiating and screaming, "stop running you idiot". Here I was in 6th place, in the final stretch, in front of 2000 people, running for a goal ... ready to give up. What happened next was amazing .....
The crowd was chanting for me. Every single step was met by a noise from the crowd. It was a sort of "huhw". Each step that hit the ground was met by the crowd. I found a strength I did not have on my own. I passed the 5th and 6th runner near the tape and finished 4th, collapsing across the lanes and almost disqualifying our team.
Emerging through the pain I looked for my coach to find my time. Did I beat my PR? Did I letter as a sophomore? I finished the race .8 seconds faster than my season best!
There was incredible joy in not giving up!
Read: Hebrews 12:1-3
1 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. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Whenever you see the word "therefore" in the Bible you might ask yourself, "What is the therefore there for?". What is the context? What comes before this set of verses?
Most know that Hebrews 11 is the "Hall of Faith", a record of God followers that held on when the they wanted to quit. What most do not know is why chapter 11 was written.
Audience: Jewish believers (the first Jews for Jesus small group?)
Situation: suffering, prison, loss of property, death
Problem: they want to quit (use link to read context if you have time)
Chapter 12 is a call for these believers to remain under the load and not quit! He urges them to:
1. Throw off anything that is slowing you down
2. Run the race with endurance
3. Make Jesus the finish line
Jesus is the ultimate not giverupper. He endured the cross for these believers. He could have quit if he wanted to. He endured because of love. He did not quit knowing the joy that would be his when he finally made it "home" and took many with him to glory.
He experienced the joy of not giving up and so could they. So can we.
Are you at a place where you are tempted to give up? Are you ready to quit the race? There is a crowd of witnesses to God's faithfulness. There is a crowd of witnesses to what it feels like to finish well. There is a crowd of witnesses to the joy that is available to you if you do not quit.
If your issue is serious (like marriage or your relationship with God) then maybe you can make a goal and establish some steps to get help.
If your issue is simple (like a puzzle) then do as you like.
But, if your issue is in-between that require wisdom and endurance. Remember, there is joy if we continue and never give up.
Look to Jesus. That is not a glance! Look full in His wonderful face.
DevoLink: Devotions to help you Link with God.
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