A shorter version of this post first appeared on Seriously Write.
In high school, I ran track, the 440-yard dash and the 880. Track was then measured in yards, not meters. A 440-yard sprint was one lap around the entire football field. When rounding the final curve, runners had depleted their energy reserves. Yet still, the entire race was a sprint.
Victory in the 880 required a fast pace through the entire first lap and well into the second. And then, rounding the final turn, sprinters kicked into their highest speed, an exhausting and painful effort. This exertion required encouragement to finish strong, either self-talk or shouts of reinforcement from others.
Teammates stood along that most difficult final curve to cheer one another along. Hearing familiar shouts propelled athletes forward. Being informed that competitors were far behind inspired the willpower to finish even stronger. If another runner was gaining, teammates’ shouts of that fact provided motivation to push harder.
Running the race required resolve, uplifting words of truth, and encouragement from others. Both races required every ounce of tenacity a competitor could muster, just like the current race in which we’re all engaged.
This year has been a difficult slog, like a sloppy, rainy day at the track. Everyone huddles in their warm sweatsuits on the school bus, pulling their hoodies tight around their faces when they disembark. Teammates leave the bus to cheer one another around the bend, and then runners and encouragers all arrive back chilled to the bone.
Still, they came out to cheer, for still the runners ran.
In America, the pandemic of 2020 has been an exceedingly costly race. So far, it has cost us the lives of more than 251,000 loved ones. It has brought evictions, closed businesses, broken apart marriages, and taken away jobs.
More than 11,570,000 Americans have caught COVID-19, 20% of the more than 56,560,000 cases of COVID worldwide, though we make up only 4.3% of the world’s population. (Stats here) At this time, the number of cases is climbing as the virus surges yet again. This has made this year quite a difficult race, an exhausting year that is teaching us to rely on the Lord.
Pfizer will have a vaccine approved by the FDA by April, and possibly so will Moderna. The final stages of testing are available to the wider public. Both vaccines are around 95% effective. Incredible, considering that the flu vaccine is only 50% effective. These vaccines could change everything.
We’re in the second lap of the 880, the section where we need to persevere. Now is the time to press on, not to give up, but to make wise decisions, to wear masks wherever we go, and to continue to be careful with our hand washing and the wiping down of surfaces in our homes and at work.
Now is also the time to encourage one another, to position ourselves along those difficult parts of the race to cheer one another around the curve toward victory. Now is the time to offer uplifting words, to help one another to do what is difficult but will produce the best outcome.
Thankfully, in this grueling long-distance race, a time of incredible conflict, sickness, and death, we have powerful teammates to motivate us. These encourage and inspire us, enabling us to share the message of God’s faithfulness, so that they are likewise empowered to run with endurance.In this grueling long-distance race, a time of incredible conflict, sickness, & death, we have powerful teammates to motivate us. These encourage and inspire us, enabling us to share the message of God’s faithfulness. Click To Tweet
We have Jesus, our most significant teammate. We have men and women of faith who have gone before us. The example of these and the promise of an eternity with the Lord equip us, upholding us through remembrances of how selflessly they lived and, as a result, the foundation they laid for us.
Consider the actions of our ancestors in the pandemic of 1918-1920, in WW1, in the Great Depression, and in WW2. Run the race as they did. Push through this global 9/11-type event in virulent form like the heroes of that tragedy demonstrated.
Remember the believers of Hebrews 11 and their acts of obedience and faith. All of these godly people, their failures, their comebacks, and their victories inform and inspire us. Our remembrance of them and an awareness of an eternity with the Lord enable us to persevere.
Run the race as they did. Let go of whatever holds you back. With eyes aimed ahead, remind one another that we will round that last corner. We will finish this race. We will race across the line to victory in Christ.
We look “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 12:2b-3 ESV).
Repeatedly, daily, frequently, consider Jesus. Ponder the reality of all he accomplished for us with his life, death, burial, and resurrection. Remember how he persevered, how he overcame. He revitalizes us, advocating for us, cheering us onward as we finish the race. His example gives strength to the weary and hope to the fainthearted.
Jesus is our everything. He comes alongside us.Repeatedly, daily, frequently, consider Jesus. Ponder the reality of all he accomplished for us with his life, death, burial, and resurrection. Remember how he persevered, how he overcame. He revitalizes us. Click To Tweet
He puts us back together when we fall flat on our faces, sprawled out on the track as the other competitors race away. The Spirit of Jesus cheers us onward when we don’t think we can push through to the race’s end. His grace grabs hold, propelling us forward. His nearness carries us when we have no more strength.The Spirit of Jesus cheers us onward when we don’t think we can push through to the race’s end. His grace grabs hold, propelling us forward. His nearness carries us when we have no more strength. Click To Tweet
This pandemic will not last forever, but our growth in faith and our reliance upon the Lord will impact our eternity. Write words of hope. Urge one another across the finish line. Faithfully hold fast to Christ. Expend everything for him. The victory has already been won in Christ.
“. . .Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not fear or be dismayed, because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s,'” (2 Chronicles 20:15).
This encouragement to King Jehoshaphat during battle applies to us as God’s people. Though we do all we can responsibly, the battle against this pandemic belongs to the Lord, just as the results of the election belong to him. This year is held cupped in his hands. Do not fear nor be dismayed.This pandemic will not last forever, but our growth in faith and our reliance upon the Lord will impact our eternity. Write words of hope. The victory has already been won in Christ. #Write #Faith Click To Tweet Though we do all we can responsibly, the battle against this pandemic belongs to the Lord, just as the results of the election belong to him. This year is held cupped in his hands. Do not fear nor be dismayed. Click To Tweet
How are you doing in the race?
Are your eyes fastened on the Savior, on the examples already set, and on the glorious future we have with Jesus?
Are you in need of prayer?
What advice can you give to others for how to get through this long slog of a race?