This is our text for this Sunday!
Romans 5:3-5 (NRSV)
3 And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
I could post a picture of myself running a 20 K long distance race up and down the hills of Wheeling West Virginia, but you might not recognize me.
The Elby’s Distance Race was a big thing in its day; back in the 1980’s or so..
Just imagine me toward the back of the pack. I might even actually be in this picture. I was not in the running for winning. The winners ran a 5 to a sub 5 minute mile. The course record was 1 hour and 56 seconds for the 12.4 miles (20 k) For me, I considered just finishing the race a win.
I thing that I learned about running a long distance race is that if a person is going to run a 20 K race, then a person needs to practice running such a distance. Running over 12 miles is not easy, but practice strengthens the body and increases one’s aerobic capacity. If one listens well enough to their body, the pain of practice produces strength and the ability to finish the race. We find the ability to accomplish the goal of finishing the race by putting ourselves to the task.
I think life is a little like a race. The question is, are we living so as to complete the race? Despite the effort and even the pain, what do you need to practice more at? What makes us a person ready to cross the finish line?
Paul tells us that it is Christ who makes us able, but sometimes the course is difficult and certainly not without effort or pain. None-the-less even the pains we suffer in life bring forth a divine blessing. Suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us. It does not disappoint us because God love is made more present and real to us. We become a people focused on that which does not fail. Perhaps sometimes the road can be long and the movement from suffering to hope is not a direct path, but God does not abandon us within the race. Therefore whatever your situation is keep running. You will cross the finish line.