I’m starting a “Run for God” program at our church and the first meeting is this Saturday, August 18th. Many of those who will attend aren’t presently runners but want to be. I’m excited to take them on this 12 week journey! 

To spice things up, I looked for a 5K (3.1 mile) race to end our 12 weeks together. I found one on November 3rd that winds in and out of downtown Brooksville and around our church facilities. I was initially thrilled … and then I noticed the northernmost part of the route. There are some serious hills!

I’ve got twelve weeks to get these guys and gals ready at a pace that keeps them healthy and interested. From personal experience, I know that they’ve got to develop endurance and they’re going to need a lot of encouragement.

Do you know what it will take to build endurance? Certainly not sitting in a chair listening to me talk about the art of running. They’re going to have to get out there and run. They’ll sweat. Their legs will ache. Their lungs will cry out for air. Their body will let them know how out of shape they’ve become.

But, if they do the hard things, then eventually, they will be free to enjoy the quality of endurance and good health. They’ll realize that running 3.1 miles at a time (what they once thought was impossible) is actually enjoyable! They’ll experience the thrill of crossing the finish line as the gathered crowds are applauding their achievement!

This truth applies so easily to the Christian life. If we want to develop the ability to glide through the difficulties of life (“life is pain” for you Princess Bride fans), then we’ve got to go through the tough times. That’s the only way to develop endurance. In fact, that is exactly why God brings difficulty (the bad things) into our life … to build endurance (the good thing). Romans 5:3 says, “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance.”

Don’t get upset at God when life gets tough. Realize that he’s toughening you up. He’s getting you spiritually fit so that when life gets tough again, you can handle it and glorify Him in the middle of it.

But, I want to share one more thing. I mentioned that in a foot race, it is so fun to hear the crowds cheering as you approach the finish line. Wouldn’t it be nice if we were encouraged that way in our Christian race? Well, we are. Just read Romans 15:4. “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” (emphasis added)

As we read God’s Word and see how He worked in the lives of the biblical characters, we believe that He is doing the same in us (Hebrews 12:1-2) so we are encouraged. When we read the precious promises found in God’s Word affirming His love for us, His assurance that He is fully in control of all things, His promise that He will work all things for our good, His provision of the Holy Spirit, and so much more, we are encouraged to keep going, to keep following Him in word and deed no matter how tough it may get.

Why? Because God has made us to be more than conquerors (Romans 8:37)! He wants us to show others how incredible He is by our ability to go through tough times with endurance and feeling extremely encouraged!

How exciting is that?!