As lockdown restrictions begin to ease up, we’re seeing more and more people out and about. If you find yourself out quite early in the morning, you may have noticed that there’s a definite increase in runners making the most of the early morning sunshine.
The image of a runner or athlete is one of the most common metaphors used in the New Testament. It describes the Christian journey—the need to persevere in faith, to be disciplined in training so you can keep running until you reach the finish line.
It seems this image is also a good way of describing our lockdown experience. For many of us, this has felt like a marathon rather than a sprint. You might be trying to work your hours at home, having numerous Zoom meetings a day, trying to home-school – maybe all at the same time. Maybe instead you’ve been shielding, struggling with cabin fever and loneliness, desperately looking forward to the moment you can pop round to your friends or family’s houses and enjoy their company. Whatever your circumstances, you’re probably really feeling the fact that we’re entering our 14th week of this way of life.
It’s like the halfway point of a marathon; you’re exhausted from the many miles you’ve run but you also can’t see the finish line yet. And you’re tired. When you look at the road ahead of you, you don’t know how you’re going to have the strength to make it to that finish line.
The writers of Scripture knew how that felt—how it felt to have no strength left. But they were encouraged by this: The Lord has more than enough strength for all of us.
Isaiah declares, “Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Is. 40:30-31)
Paul experienced this himself. He shares that in his difficulties, the Lord said to him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” In response, Paul says, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me… For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor. 12:9-10)
Our partners are wonderful examples to us of depending on the Lord and persevering. Mirabelle and Samuel, who run Hope for Widows and Orphans Ministry (HWOM) in Cameroon, have had to spend the last 2 years away from their hometown but have finally been able to return. Their ministry supports widows, rejected by their husbands’ families, in establishing income-generating activities to provide for themselves and their families, and Mirabelle and Samuel had been having to support them from a distance. Finally able to return home recently, they were overjoyed to discover that God had continued His good work in their absence—many widows had persevered with their income-generating activities and were succeeding in earning an income in the middle of a conflict and a pandemic!
As you continue running the marathon of lockdown, navigating the twists and turns of the road ahead, may you be encouraged by testimonies like this of God’s strength and faithfulness and may you lean on Him for your strength—He has more than enough to get you over the finish line. “The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it.” (1 Thess. 5:24)