Over the weekend I ran a marathon. Of the 8 I’ve run, I have to say it may have been the most difficult. It was much warmer than my training runs and mainly without coverage from the sun. There were also many hills on a course I was hoping would be flat.
Needless to say I was pretty miserable by the time I got past mile 20 and following. Around mile 23 – with just 3 miles to go – I almost quit. I NEVER quit! I never quit, well, anything, really. I hate quitting. Quitting is failing to me. Soooo-even considering quitting – for me – is rare. But I wanted desperately to quit running this time. I wanted to sit down, put my head in my hands and cry because continuing to run was so miserably uncomfortable.
The more I thought about stopping; the more I thought about sitting down; the more I wished and drempt about being anywhere but there – the more I focused on all the comforts I did not have at that moment – the worse I felt and the less strength I had to go on. Just then, though, I came upon a Christian band playing worship music. It directed my focus to Christ and I began to think about His suffering. I held on by remembering that my pain was nothing compared to His. I just kept thinking, “It can’t be worse than what Jesus felt…it can’t be worse than what Jesus felt…”
Many may think it’s absurd or unnecessary to push yourself to the limits of physical and mental strength on purpose by running a marathon or doing other extreme challanges. I know what benefit it brings for both my physical and my spiritual state, though.
By CHOOSING to suffer and temporarily deny oneself the comforts of life, Christ prepares us for upcoming hardships that are not chosen by us. The trials that are out of our control are handled much more graciously and peacefully when we’ve had practice!
I’m certainly not saying I handle trials easily or gracefully, but I am saying I handle them much better than I would if I did not practice self control/self denial physically through things such as running or fasting on a regular basis.
On the other hand, times when I choose to bask in modern comforts or dwell on staying comfortable physically, relationally, financially, etc. – those are the times when I am the weakest and least able to deal with the trials of life.
The bible teaches self control, fasting, self denial, etc. for a reason! It seems this country(including the church) has lost those ideals inmany areas and replaced them with a love of comfort. Unfortunately weakness follows comfort and strength follows pain – usually.
Next time you find yourself comfortable – examine yourself and see if God might be able to work better in you if you’d willingly lay aside your comforts for a time. Afford yourself some practice for the tests that doubtless will come – sooner or later. It can only make you stronger!
Listen to how the bible describes the “Godlessness” of the last days:
1But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. ~2Timothy 3:1-5