“Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews: 12:1-2)
Life’s struggles turn precious over time.
I ran a 12 mile race called The Fun Run with college students. To me the name sounded like something out of a George Orwell novel. The run was not fun and my pace never exceeded a jog.
The race was more difficult and painful than I expected. I grew impatient to pass each new mile stone. At times, I doubted I could make it to the next one. But after the race, a strange thing happened almost immediately – my perspective changed.
The heat, the cramps, the thirst – so vivid in my experience became hazy in my reflections. I asked the other runners, “Were there two long hills or three?” It was hard for me to remember. Everything blended together and I nearly forgot about a hill that seemed indomitable only hours earlier. The Fun Run, it turned out, wasn’t that bad after all. In fact, the race went surprisingly well.
The glory of finishing the race had worked backwards transforming my experience. It replaced doubts with confidence and complaints with joyful reminiscing. Strangely, days later, the race had earned its name.
What race are you running? Is it for: health, beauty, moral excellence, status, security, freedom? Have you exhausted yourself yet?
What if your race was already over and the goal was achieved? The hope of Christianity is that the race is already over. Jesus ran the race for us. He declared on the cross, “It is finished!”
He ran an amazing race against sin and death – and he won. His victory restores glowing health, lasting beauty, absolute purity, incomparable status, eternal security, and real freedom. He currently sits at the Father’s right hand in the winners circle. He waits for us to join him. His Spirit strengthens us toward the only possible outcome – victory.
Jesus’ accomplishment changes everything. Not only is sin and death defeated, but we will ultimately view all our suffering and pain from the perspective of His total victory. The glowing health and lasting beauty of our resurrected bodies will make it hard to remember our present blemishes and limitations. Our hearts, purified by His love, will forget what it was to fear. Our status as members of Jesus’ royal family will drown out the inferiority complex that currently deafens us. The security of heaven will make our daily worrying look nearly insane. The freedom of holiness will permanently break any concerns of being trapped against our will.
When we understand Jesus finished the race for us; hope replaces fear, peace replaces anxiety, and trust replaces resentment. Only then can we run through today’s pain, with the attitude of winners – confident and sure that victory is ours.
And looking back on our journey, we may even unexpectedly find beauty in our pain – like spotting a rainbow in the rear-view mirror where only dark clouds lingered.