“Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.” (James 5:11 NKJV)
The end goal is the end. By this I mean the beginning is trumped by the end. The middle is trumped by the end. The end of the matter, whatever the matter may have been in our eyes or the eyes of others, matters to the furthest extent … because, after all, that extent is the end.
The finish line is always the goal for the right-minded runner who begins the race (1 Corinthians 9:24-25). The course will challenge that goal. But the end must remain the goal, or else the run will turn into a walk, which turns into standing idle, which turns into sitting for a break, which turns into not getting back up. If this happens the end will not be the goal we originally had in mind. Keep the end in mind!
Job didn’t know how the book of Job would end. But James’ admonition is given with the understanding that we know how the story ended! And if, in the midst of trials and troubles, we keep the end in mind (by that I mean the end God has in mind for us – 2 Corinthians 5:1), we can know how our book will end too.
“Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.” (Hebrews 10:38-39 NKJV)
There’s a wonderful story coming out of Minnesota about a 9-year-old little boy who was running in a 5K race but he began to run out of a little steam toward the end. The boy finished, but the way he finished is what makes the story so great.
As the boy found himself starting to run alone and getting discouraged he spotted someone who he thought might help him – Lance Cpl. Myles Kerr of the United States Marine Corps. The boy asked Mr. Kerr if he would run with him, and Mr. Kerr refused to turn him down and helped the young boy, Boden Fuchs, finish the race even when he wanted to give up.
What a story!
There are so many spiritual applications, the least of them being that we all need someone to run our race of faith with; we all need a little encouragement every now and then, and God’s word can provide the support and encouragement we need if we’re willing to listen to those who know what it’s like to be in our shoes: “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [think Hebrews 11 here], let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” (Hebrews 12:1). And this thought goes without leaving out the very next verse which says, “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)
There is no shame in asking for help while we run our race here on earth; there are days when we all run better than others and days when we run worse, and we should know how far a little bit of encouragement can go. The real shame comes from us having the ability to help others but leaving them behind to fail in their race. So let’s be the encourager that God wants us to be and helps others finish their race.
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,” (Hebrews 10:23-24)
The army of Alexander the Great was advancing on Persia. At one critical point, it appeared that his troops might be defeated. The soldiers had taken so much plunder from their previous campaigns that they had become weighted down and were losing their effective-ness in combat. Alexander immediately commanded that all the spoils be thrown into a heap and burned.
The Hebrews writer admonished, “Therefore let us also, seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience [endurance; steadfastness; perseverance] the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1). The race before us is the Christian life. How often do we, like the “foolish Galatians,” allow things of this world to hinder us from our enduring faithfulness to God? If we are not careful we will allow such things as work, recreation, education, retirement plans, hobbies, and even our families weight us down and impede our growth and pursuit of the prize of the high calling of God (Philippians 3:4).
As Alexander commanded his armies, we must not simply store in another place those things that hinder us from our fighting the good fight, but we must cast them aside and completely remove them from our lives— regardless how precious they may seem! Consider the results for the armies of Greece: “Alexander’s men complained bitterly but soon came to see the wisdom of the order. Someone wrote, ‘It was as if wings had been given to them—they walked lightly again.’ Victory was assured.” Remember, “No man can serve two masters” (Matthew 6:24).