This week is the final part, of the three-part series, “Three Ways to Run the Race and Finish Strong”. Previously, FirstCov’er Melissa Falde covered Part 1: "When Vigilance Brings Victory" and Part 2: “From Endurance to Eternity”. We are finding out that in order to finish our race well, we must realize that our strength ultimately comes from God. This week, she continues to explore ways to apply God’s truths in our daily lives.
When was the last time you felt lucky to be struggling?
Let's be honest here, the afflictions we face are not initially met with a blinking welcome sign are they? Just this past weekend, I found myself with a broken toe. It is extremely humbling to feel the limitations of my body every time I take a step. With a busy household to run, setting up camp on my couch for healing to take place is not an option for me.
When the Thorn isn't Removed
I couldn’t help but think back to the Apostle Paul (stay with me here) and how he had an affliction, which he called a thorn in his flesh. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12:8-10,
“I asked the Lord three times about this, that it would depart from me. But He said to me, 'May grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' So then, I will boast most gladly about my weakness, so that the power of Christ may reside in me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, with insults, with troubles, with persecutions and difficulties for the sake of Christ, for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.”
My broken toe is not at all comparable to the sufferings Paul experienced. My toe will heal and the pain of it will fade as time passes. I think what Paul wants us to focus on here in these verses, is that God is quite capable take away our struggles and our sufferings, but He doesn’t. And it’s for an amazing reason.
Grit and God's Grace
There’s a word that is captivating to me lately – grit. Grit is all about courage and the strength of a person’s character. I would dare to say that Paul had grit. Knowing that he was infinitely weak, God’s power was residing within. Even with that wretched thorn, Paul persevered not by his own power, but by the grace of God.
3. When Perseverance Brings Promises
Maybe you are like me that when you reflect on the hardest struggles you have faced in life, you may find that an extreme amount of spiritual growth had occurred there. There are seasons in my life where I reflect and visualize a picture of me clinging to Jesus. When we are on our knees, we are relinquishing our perceived power and handing it to the One who can fight our battles for us.
So why do Christians continue to persevere? Wouldn’t it would be easier to throw in the towel when suffering comes our way? If we were interested in short-term gains, perhaps, but as Christians, we are given instructions to:
“…throw off everything that hinders us and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” Hebrews 12:1-2
We can get through each and every trial that comes our way when we stop gawking at what is holding us back and start gazing at what Jesus is doing in our lives.
In his book, "Spiritual Grit: A Journey Into Endurance, Character, Confidence, and Hope", author Rick Lawrence captures this idea, “With the Holy Spirit “filling our hearts with His love,” our impossible problems and trials are the on-ramp to a life marked by endurance, character, confidence, and hope. We stick with things, no matter what. We tackle the tough stuff, with no excuses. And we find ourselves rejoicing in the middle of it all, because nothing is more deeply satisfying than overcoming hard things in the close company of a God whose greatest gift to us is His intimate presence.”
Jesus has done the eternal heavy lifting for us, through His death on the cross. Let's lift up our arms in prayer and praise to our wonderful Savior.
James 1:12 says, “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” In digging in further, we read that we are being directed to persevere so that when we have done the will of God, we will receive what He has promised (Hebrews 10:36). He gives us the strength and the ability to endure these trials, and Hebrews 10:39 states, “But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.”
I pray that this series has been an encouragement to you that although the trials come, through Christ Jesus, we can overcome.
I want to leave you with this song that invites you to welcome the Lord to fill the places in your life. This song speaks of our amazing Savior who brings us out of the ashes, and of His love that overcame the grave. Let us be reminded that once we drop to our knees and cry out to Him, He will reign in victory in all of our battles.
Did you miss the first part of this three-part series? Check it out here.
We'd love to hear ways that you have overcome hurdles and how you kept your faith in the center of your life in the day to day grind.
Take it to the comments for a conversation!