The average Olympian trains four hours a day, for at least 320 days a year, for six years before succeeding. In the four years before an Olympics, Greg Louganis probably practiced each of his dives 3,000 times. Kim Zmeskal has probably done every flip in her routine at least 20,000 times.*
Talk about dedication! They continued on, whether they felt like it or not. What do you think kept them going?
Hebrews 12:1-3 uses the analogy of physical discipline to answer this question on a spiritual level. That is, it addresses our need for spiritual endurance, as indicated by the phrase in bold:
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
What we read about endurance points to Christ. We are told to run with endurance…fixing our eyes on Jesus. What do you suppose keeps a child of God determined to finish this earthly race in victory? It is hope, isn’t it? It is knowing that we run the same race as Christ, who claimed the ultimate victory for us.
I don’t know about you, but I have plenty of opportunity for my endurance to be tested, many which are built-in within our fallen world.
What does the Bible say we shall endure in this life? Here are just a few mentions:
We endure temptations:
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Even in temptation, we have assurance and encouragement for two things: that it won’t be more than we can bear, and that God will provide a way of escape.
We endure trials:
“Consider it all joy, brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” (James 1:2-3)
The more trials we face, the stronger our faith becomes, if we as Christians allow this testing to do its work in our lives.
We endure persecutions:
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 5:10-NKJV).
It’s a given. This life is not a sprint, it is a marathon. Herein we find the training ground to bear up under all the temptations, trials, and persecutions.
Have you ever had to endure a long and painful time in your life? As a believer, were there any spiritual take-aways?
Excerpts from “The Race Before Us”
*Illustration taken from sermoncentral.com, accessed Dec. 23, 2014