I can think of several times when I was ready to quit… times when the opposition seemed so overwhelming and I just did not think I had the strength or capacity to press on. Some of those times were in my athletic career; the hardest one was when I injured my back. Lying on the floor after surgery, not knowing how I would walk, let alone run or compete again on the field, was a daunting time. Although this was hard, a much greater struggle came when I was told by my employer that they didn’t need me anymore. I had dumped my heart and soul into that job, given time away from my family that I could never retrieve, and endured several personal attacks on my faith and character. I guess if I was going to give up and not look back, these were the times.
Since then, I have learned a few things. To start, I realized a compliment from a fool is really an insult, and an insult from a fool is really a compliment, and I should always consider the source, never abandoning my faith.
Second, a finisher is not one without wounds or weariness. Quite to the contrary, he is like the boxer, who is scarred and bloody. Mother Teresa is credited with saying, “God didn’t call us to be successful, just faithful.” The fighter, like our Savior, is pierced and full of pain. He, like Paul, may even be bound and beaten, but the fighter, like Jesus and Paul, remains steadfast.
Remaining steadfast with our face towards the goal is not easy on our own. But the third thing I have learned is, I am not alone. God, in His grace and love, walks with me every moment of every day, and in every circumstance. When I am knocked down, his nail scarred hand reaches out and picks me up. It’s these times of upheaval that bring Isaiah’s words to life for me, “Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down… But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:4-6) Not only is He there to pick me up, He stands with me in every battle. He has promised to ‘never leave me nor forsake me’ and through His Spirit, ‘provide everything pertaining to life and godliness’ for those who place their hope and trust in Him.
The last thing I have learned is that even when I may be considering giving up, God never gives up on me. Isaiah goes on to say, “All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the sins of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6)
Paul repeats the theme when he writes, “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8). If while I was rejecting Him, He was bearing my sin because He saw value in me, how much safer would I be under His care and trusting in His Word…?
There is much else to tell you, but this one thing is more important than all else right now, ‘Don’t give up, don’t ever give up’, don’t let go of His nail scarred hand. Even though you, like the fighter, may be bloodied and hurting, Grasp tighter and pull yourself closer, finish the race, for you are not alone, nor will you ever be with Jesus.
‘The finisher, though wounded and scarred, presses on when he knows for whom and what he fights for.’
Praying 4 U…
Written by David Brown: David Brown is a husband, father, and grandfather with a Masters of Religious Studies and a Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Religions. Dave is a member of Pemberton’s First Baptist Church.
Daily Quote: “To learn strong faith is to endure great trials. I have learned my faith by standing firm amid severe testings.” – George Mueller
This Week’s Verse to Memorize:
The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17