Chances are you have read this famous passage in 1 Corinthians before: “Do you not know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. However, they do it to receive a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one. Therefore I do not run like one who runs aimlessly, or box like one who beats the air. Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27) Have you ever wondered why Paul chose the example of a runner and a boxer? Both sports require endurance. The longest boxing match took place on April 6, 1893 between Andy Bowen and Jack Burke. It lasted 7 hours and 19 minutes. It was 110 rounds! (answers.com) Now, that requires perseverance! Endurance isn’t born out of nothing. It requires experience and discipline. No one’s ever gone from the couch to a marathon in the same day. The body must be trained.
Our spirit is the same. Paul knows that we need discipline and stamina to cross the finish line of life. The world hits hard. Thus, when we experience trials, we not only can’t remain in those trials (See Part 1 of the Trials Series: “We Cannot Remain” https://mirandasharp.wordpress.com/2012/10/10/we-cannot-remain-trials-series-part-1/), but we must endure them as well. Trials strengthen us. They are an important part of conditioning our spirit. They teach us to trust and rely on Christ. When we moved to Texas four years ago, we had experienced our share of ups and downs in life and ministry. Yet, Jason and I learned more in the time we were there than any time before. We grew as a couple, but we grew in the Lord. We relied on Him—completely. There was no family near by. Seminary tuition is costly. We had a baby. Life happened. Ten years from now, we will look back and see how we have grown even more. The experiences we have, no matter how trying, build our faith if we will let them.
There was an amazing couple in the church we pastored in Texas who had a young boy with down syndrome. Not long after we got to Walnut Springs, he was also diagnosed with leukemia. Over a year, we ministered to, prayed for and watched that family go through that trial. All along the way, they smiled and shared the Gospel. They worried. Sure. They were tired. Absolutely. But, that beautiful family endured, and they did it for the glory of God. They taught me a lot about trials. We can never give up.
As we fight our way out of trials through the power of the Holy Spirit, we will not only be victorious through Christ, but we will be stronger because of Him. We will know Him more intimately. We will look to Him first. When the next trial comes, we will run to Him. We won’t remain, but we will endure. As you continue to share the Gospel, pray and read His Word during the trying times of your life, you will find peace where there isn’t peace. You will find joy when you are broken. You will find the Father who will hold His weeping child. May God give you endurance during this time. Be blessed!
“Blessed is a man who endures trials, because when he passes the test he will receive the crown of life that He has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12