The Call to Endurance

Open Your Bible

Hebrews 12:1-17, 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, James 1:2-4

After my first year of college, while I spent the summer at home, I interned with the athletic department at a local military university. That year, the Paralympic Game Trials were being hosted in my hometown, and the events took place on the military installation. I spent two weeks witnessing a unique type of endurance, but I will never forget this one race. 

I was standing at the finish line for a wheelchair marathon. Most participants had made it to the end, but one was lagging. News finally traveled to us, waiting at the end, that this individual’s wheelchair had been damaged in the race. We all assumed he would call it, but when asked, he insisted on completing the race. 

Minutes passed, and in the distance, we all noticed this man using his knuckles to move his wheelchair toward the finish line. As he came into view for much of the crowd, those gathered erupted with praise as we all watched an extraordinary display of endurance. You can tell that every inch forward required a great deal of effort, yet he continued. As he crossed the finish line, the crowd hushed out of honor and amazement. With bloody knuckles, he tilted his head back, chin raised towards the sky, with pure satisfaction all over his face. 

I think about this man whenever I consider the endurance we are called to as followers of Christ. 

I’m not much of an athlete and never enjoyed running, but I think we all are familiar with the exhilaration that comes when we start our race. We are ready to run, eager to finish, and hopeful to endure. But then we grow tired and weary.  We grow weak and discouraged by the distance left to go. Or, we get inflicted with an injury, stumble onto an obstacle, or thrown off course by a trial. 

Hebrews 12:1 makes it clear that a race is set out for each of us and that it must be run with perseverance. This perseverance is produced not from fixing our eyes on the finish line but on the perfecter and finisher of our faith—Jesus Christ. And while we run with great effort to obtain the prize of an eternal reward that will never pass away (1Corinthians 9:25). We press forward as we consider the example Christ set for us when He endured the cross. 

Like the man I witnessed on that summer day in June, our race will sometimes require us to look past our bloody knuckles and tired bones and look to Him. Our race will be filled with both triumphant strides and a grueling crawl. We are bound to grow weary, wounded, and worn. But we are strengthened by where we put our gaze. We are strengthened as we endure being disciplined by His correction (Hebrews 12:7). We are strengthened as we consider He who endured a great deal of suffering because He understood the great deal of good on the other side. 

In His goodness, Christ is both our example and companion. Calling us to the race marked for each of us and sustaining us through each stride. And as Charles Spurgeon said, “He stands with us at the starting point, and earnestly says to us, not “run,” but “let us run” (v.1).

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46 thoughts on "The Call to Endurance"

  1. Jan says:

    In today’s lesson, I thought of the ‘great cloud of witnesses’ as the writer spoke of the crowd cheering on the man in the wheelchair. I can imagine the throng of heaven cheering on those who are lagging, those who are discouraged or beaten down by life events. I pray for each of you as you bring your challenges and heartaches and joys to the Lord. May you find rest for your souls and balm for your hurting hearts.

  2. Lehua K. says:

    Wow, today’s study brought me to (happy) tears. I am so grateful that Jesus paved the way for us as the ultimate example of endurance and love. I never noticed that either, about “let us run” instead of the simple command to “run.” He went BEFORE us and yet He is also WITH us in our own race. What a blessing!

    I was also brought to tears as I am reminded of one of our late business mentors who shared this verse (and 2 Timothy 4:7) in one of his talks. I am blessed to be surrounded by business mentors and partners who stand unified, and who encourage and support one another in our own journeys, our “race” so to speak.

    Feeling so tremendously blessed this morning and at peace, wrapped in the blanket of God’s presence, provision and protection <3 have a blessed day ladies!

  3. Lexi B says:

    Let us Run…I hadn’t really noticed that until now. Love that He runs with us. I also used to be a runner, but have struggled with planter facitis on and off. I know the thrill of starting and finishing a race. The discipline that goes into it.

    Michelle- I’m a fellow cancer survior too! This time, in remission for almost 6 years.

  4. Dorothy says:

    Lord help us as we run our race to better ourselves, to show Your love in us to others, to think the best of everything, and to NEVER, EVER, EVER give up. We know you are ALWAYS by our side and will be with to the end. Watch over and protect us. Remind us of the good in everything. In Christ’s name, amen.

  5. Heidi says:

    Saw the title today and even though I’ve been playing nurse to 2 sick kids on top of everyday life, I knew I had to take time to read it.

    The start of my current race was end of august when I began as full-time grad student in an intense, but highly esteemed, seminary. I was excited and in the thrill of all I was learning. However I was also overcommitted to things of value, but should perhaps have pushed pause on. I now find myself half way through my 1st semester and I’m struggling. I could give the laundry list of what I have to get done, but you all get that. You have your lists too. I keep getting hit with unexpected interruptions- one child sick, then the other, then car battery dies, then “on and on”- all on the week I have an enormous work load.
    I’m tired. I feel defeated and incompetent. It is very VERY difficult for me to accept defeat or think I’m incapable of doing something I want to do. Grace. It’s something I’m learning at a new level and still don’t fully have it.
    I don’t want “hard” to make me quit. That’s stupid. And I don’t want to keep feeling like I’m barely making it- IF I’m making it at all.
    Endurance. Considering interruptions as “joy” compared to the end prize. I definitely WANT that.
    Praying for the inspired motivation to keep going, and going strong.

  6. Traci Gendron says:

    The race was with Tanner’s illness. I never thought I’d have the strength to endure all we had on our plate. But with God all things are possible. He lifted me up when I couldn’t deal with one more medical issue. It was 33 years of heartache and also love. Tanner handled his illness with such maturity and grace that he was a wonderful example to me. As the 1st anniversary comes near, I know that God will once again lift me up.

    Praying for you Tina and Susan. I completely understand the pain.

  7. Donna Wolcott says:

    “He stands with us at the starting point, and earnestly says to us, not “run”, but “let us run”! Thank you dear Jesus for your leading, guiding, lifting and running this life beside me.

  8. Mari V says:

    Good morning ☀️ beautiful sisters! I was so moved, again by this devotional. I am a runner. And I love it. Most of you here know last Labor Day I broke my ankle setting me back, but once I was released to start running again I did. I am much, much slower but God knows what he was doing. I used to run alone but one day one of my daughters best friends mom asked if she could start running with me. I am no longer at the pace I used to be but that’s OK. We both are now at the same pace, but most of all I’ve gained a beautiful friend who also loves Jesus. We have talked, shared, and cried together during our walk/runs. God is so good! I’ve shared with her that many times just like in this devotional I look ahead and I imagine Jesus waiting for me with his open arms at the FINISH line.