In the context of a larger conversation, a friend happened to mention last summer that she had completed a moderate workout the evening before—running for forty-five minutes on a treadmill at 5.7 mph. Without much thought, I noted the comment and reminded myself that I really needed to be exercising.
Less than a week later, I determined to begin, and I set a goal for myself of forty-five minutes per day. I decided that I should start my new plan with moderation, and remembering my friend’s earlier statement, I decided forty-five minutes on the treadmill at 5.7 mph would be good for the first day. (She said it was moderate!) It didn’t take long for me to realize that this was a strenuous workout! I chalked it up, however, to being very out of shape and determined to persevere.
Four miles and forty-five minutes later, I staggered off the treadmill and collapsed on the floor. The next day, I could hardly walk. (If you’ve not been much of a runner, let me encourage you that this is not a good start!)
During those grueling forty-five minutes, I grasped for something to occupy my mind—anything to distract myself from my exhaustion. I thought of Hebrews 12:1, “And let us run with patience the race that is set before us.”
Aren’t those two words run and patience a contradiction? After all, if I’m running, it’s probably because I want to get somewhere fast. If I need patience, it might mean that I have to take awhile. Why would I ever run with patience?
In a short sprint, you don’t need patience. You just take off and get to the finish line as fast as possible. But in a long marathon (or a forty-five minute stint of torture on the treadmill), patience is a necessity.
God tells us to equip ourselves with patience for the race of life: “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith…” (Hebrews 12:1–2).
Running signifies intensity and focus. But patience speaks of commitment—that we’re going to endure to the finish line.
One of the greatest examples of patience in Scripture is Job. When Job’s life was turned upside down and inside out, he chose to endure, and eventually God blessed “the latter end of Job more than his beginning” (Job 42:12). Did Job struggle in the meantime? Yes, and the book of Job records his trust through confusion. Yet, even in the midst of pain and doubt, he endured.
James 5:11 records the value of Job’s patience: “Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.”
What if Job hadn’t waited? What if he decided he had run long enough and followed his wife’s advice to throw in the towel? I’m thankful he patiently endured.
One of my favorite definitions of patience is “endurance to the point of victory.” Galatians 6:9 encourages us to this type of patience: “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” There is a reward for the patience that waits on the Lord!
“Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD” (Psalm 27:14).
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