Hope Fuels Endurance
Hope fuels endurance.
Anyone out there a marathon runner? I’m not. I do run. Ehm. Well, I trot. I’ve even run races every now and then and at the end of them, I’m whipped out. I couldn’t imagine going another mile let alone another thirteen.
Something I’ve read and heard from people who are marathoners is that during your race you’ll most likely get to a point where you are sure you can’t take another step. Everything in your body hurts and your brain is begging you to stop. You have given everything you have to give—but you keep going.
I don’t know how that works, but I’ve heard it from so many different people that I believe it’s true. I believe it’s possible to be completely exhausted. Completely spent. Completely overwhelmed and you just keep going.
We will all have a marathon season at some point in our lives. A season where everything hurts, we’ve been going for so long and we are spent, and yet we must keep moving. Most likely it’s because you have no other option but to keep moving.
My elderly grandparents live with my parents, and most of their care lands on my mother. She is happy to care for them. She loves my grandparents deeply and is so grateful she and my dad can manage all their needs. It is an act of selfless love…and the burden is heavy. Every part of her life revolves around their care and her brief moments of rest feel stolen. There are days she feels she can’t keep go on. But she does.
We have friends who have a medically fragile newborn in the NICU and a healthy toddler at home. They have no idea how long they will be living one foot in their house and the other in the hospital. Tired is a laughable understatement. They are physically, emotionally, and mentally on empty. But they keep going.
As I talk to nurses, teachers and parents, everyone seems to have the same sentiment. Tired was ages ago. We are far beyond tired right now. We are done, and we can’t see the finish line.
Galatians 6:9 encourages us to not grow weary in doing good, and honestly that feels like a tall order. How could I possibly *not* be weary? I’m back to my original question. How can we keep going when we have nothing left to give?
Romans 8 phrases it a different way, saying that there is something greater waiting for us on the other end of human suffering. That our burdens now, though they are real and heavy, will pale in comparison to the joy and wonder of what is to come.
Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay...We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. We were given this hope when we were saved. (Romans 8:18-24)
And therein lies the secret of endurance: hope. A belief that the pain of right now is not all that our life will be. A belief that one day, even if that day is in heaven, we will receive a reward for our faith.
Hope is, I assume, what keeps a marathoner going. Their drive to keep going comes both from the experience of knowing that the pain is temporary and the hope that the glory of the finish line will make the discomfort of the race fade in comparison.
For you, dear friend, know that hope is a gift given to help you keep going, to whisper the promise of something better in the future. Maybe it’s the promise that the hard things of today will be worth it one day. Maybe it’s the promise that the hard things of today won’t last forever. So for today, may our exhaustion bring us to the feet of our Savior.
I'll leave you with a prayer for the weary:
I’m so worn down I have nothing left to give. Give me what I need for today, just enough to survive another minute, another day. Help me trust you with my tomorrow. Give me trust that I will wake up and You will be there with me, with what I need for the day. When I’ve lost perspective and all I can feel is pain, remind me that You are good and that You are even now working things together for good.