“…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” – Hebrews 12:2-3
Life often can be thought of as endurance training. In the same way that a runner is tested and stretched beyond their limits when they train for a competition, in the same way life tests and stretches us in our journey through it. The obstacles, the pain, and the sorrow we encounter on our way tries our spirit, refining it as ore is put through a fire. As Christians, we know that God is working everything in our life toward ultimate good.
That’s not to say that this is at all easy. When I trained in martial arts, there were times that all I wanted to do is give up. There were times when I would drill and drill in a routine or technique, and all I received for my efforts was criticism from my instructors. But, weeks or months later, I would be rewarded by hearing words of praise from my instructors, informing me on how well I improved. There were other times where I felt too tired to train, but went to class anyway and worked through it. And it made me better, not just at martial arts but as a person.
Now, life is often extremely more grueling than any martial arts training. Heart wrenching loss, stinging injustice, and hurtful ridicule tear us apart and strike to the very soul. But through all of this, we have hope, and someone who can share in our suffering and comfort us. Jesus lived among us humans, and experienced the hurt, insult, and betrayal that we endure, and, in the end, was cruelly killed in an excessively tortuous manner. And in doing so, he conquered death and arose victorious, receiving in reward us Christians, his people, who will live with him forever. Like Jesus, we will suffer, but, we are promised, like him we will endure and receive our eternal reward. Like the runner, who endures through struggle and pain to win the race, we too will endure and win.