He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives...to comfort all who mourn...to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
Isaiah 61:1-3 NIV
The marathon race was my most accomplished physical feat. It was also my most challenging—26.2 miles from start to finish.
As a runner, I experienced the exhilaration of pushing through the desire to stop and give up and the joy of how it felt to finish the race. But the nineteenth mile was where I had to decide to finish the race or throw in the towel. I was depleted of energy, both physically and mentally. My only hope for continuing was to stay focused on the finish line. Nothing else mattered. Not the car that almost hit me or the pulled muscle that happened at mile twelve or the loneliness. Feelings of discouragement and despair threatened to overtake me.
Hoping I had not veered off course, I rounded the corner and saw the masses gathered to cheer on the runners as they crossed the finish line. The sound of silence I had experienced for miles was broken with shouts of encouragement, whistles, and clapping. At that moment, renewed strength poured over me in a way I had never experienced. I would have crawled across that beautiful finish line.
Today, I am running another race called life. While I know it is a gift from God to journey through this world, the natural elements associated with being here can challenge the fittest among us. Sickness, broken relationships, and financial downturns are but a few of the possible potholes we might encounter along the way.
With the majority of years of living behind me, it feels like “mile nineteen”—having experienced the farewell to my life-mate of forty-six years, along with several other losses and challenges in both body and heart.
God doesn’t promise a carefree existence. Rather, He tells us we will experience trials and suffering along the way. He also says that in His Son, Jesus Christ, we have “overcome the world” (1 John 5:4-5 NIV).
Don’t be fooled by the silence that suggests you are alone or lost without hope. The victory has been won by Jesus. If you feel as if you cannot take another step, trust and know He will carry you over the finish line.