PERSEVERE FOR CHARACTER
In South Africa where I live, the famous Comrades marathon is the ultimate endurance event. Runners complete a distance of 90 kilometers over the rough terrains of the Kwazulu-Natal province. When you watch these athletes compete, you can see them delve into every bit of training that preceded the big day. Some days my life feels like that.
During their preparation, Comrades marathon runners need to complete some shorter races to qualify for the race. If they finish the trial races within the expected time, they can be hopeful to earn the sought-after medal. That is basically what Paul is saying in Romans 5. “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment” (v. 3-5, NLT).
The problem with endurance training is not starting or finishing, it is the grueling time in between. It is the discouraging thoughts and disappointments along the way that test us. Because our Father knows what lies ahead. In the case of the Israelites, He knew how difficult it would be to remain faithful once they reach the Promised Land. “Remember how the Lord your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands” (Deuteronomy 8:2, NLT).
Do you feel like you are training in the wilderness at the moment? Do you believe that God is preparing you for the fulfillment of his promises?
Let us build hope for the future by learning endurance through our faith in Christ. Let us be mindful of the traps that can cause us to give up along the way. We will look at how to overcome some of these traps over the next few days. But for today, let us fuel our hope by trusting our Trainer. “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing” (James 1:2-4, NLT).