Hebrews 12:1: Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us. (NRSV)
Scripture Reading: Hebrews 12:1-2
Perseverance literally means “through-severe,” which speaks to one’s ability or “grit” to persist or endure in a tough situation until you can find a way over it, through it, under it, or around it. The text from Hebrews 12 is one of my favorites for perseverance.
You may not know this about me, but years ago, I used to run marathons. I actually ran 4 of them in total: Milwaukee, Detroit, Ocala, and Disney World. Now, I am not a gazelle when it comes to my body type! In fact, I have always envied those long-legged runners whose single stride is equal to about two of mine! Nevertheless, once I decided I wanted to run a marathon, the value for me was learning how to endure (or perhaps survive!) for 26.2 miles. Candidly, both in the months of training and in the events themselves, there were often times I simply wanted to quit. But then I would think of Hebrews 12:1…”Let us lay aside every weight….and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us,” and it would inspire me to tough it out and keep going. I may not have won any first-place titles, but I did finish all four of the marathons I ran.
We live in a tough time right now! The coronavirus has caused so many difficulties…illness, death, loss of jobs, isolation, anxiety and fear, uncertainties about the future, and more. Therefore, I think more than ever, we need a good dose of perseverance to get us through. I am not talking about just surviving this, but valiantly finishing the race that is set before us in a triumphal way. It is in this context that I believe faith is a big part of what it takes to face today with optimism and courage, knowing we are surrounded by a great cloud of heavenly witnesses who are cheering us on and encouraging us. Perhaps the words of Winston Churchill, one of my heroes, can inspire you today: “Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never — in nothing, great or small, large or petty — never give in.”
My friends, like the dandelion in the picture who somehow found a way through the challenge of the traffic cone to bloom brightly, may you be filled with perseverance today. Never give in….and never give up!
Loving God, you are always with us and your ideal for us is always good, healthy, gracious, and noble. Give us strength and courage for this day, that we may not just survive this present time, but persevere and triumph. Grant us your grace as we seek to be your faithful people. Amen.
Focus for the Day:
I will do my best today to live with optimism and to persevere against the challenges before me, through faith in God who is always with me.