I was reading an article recently about someone who wrote about a person who ran a marathon and their thoughts on doing such a demanding thing. Denise Helm in her writing, "Why run if it hurts," said this, "Would a marathon be as delicious, or delirious to finish, if it was easy? Of course not." She continues, "As [marathon runner Chris] Kelly says: Running builds character because it is difficult, and because many of the virtues can neither be exhibited nor developed in the absence of hardship."
"So, I'm re-examining my relationship with pain, as I know I will be running many kilometers with that devil. I tell myself that pain is a sensation; it doesn't have to be bad. It depends how it is perceived. Pain generally tells us that there is something wrong -- a broken bone or a damaged organ -- it is the damage that is bad, not the message of pain. The pain and soreness from burning thighs after a hard workout is actually good news. It means my muscles will be stronger after rebuilding the micro tears.
I am practicing in my head to have a friendly conversation with the pain that will inevitably accompany the latter stages of the marathon. It's okay, I'll say, this too shall pass."
I am sorry but I do not like pain...especially when it is my own! And I am "allergic" to running anyway so why would I want to exert myself so needlessly to pain that "seems like a good news?" Let me explain my allergy to running. As a pre-teen, I developed some knee issues which were attributed to "growing pains." The growing was the size of my knees and the pain I endured from running for a long period of time. Riding bikes was no problem. Running was.
When I got into high school I wanted to play basketball, but since I was not in a sport in the pre-season, I was required to run cross country. Enter painful swollen knees, exit one teenager who decided at that time that he was allergic to running. I missed the rest of the season, and was not allowed to try out for basketball due to my knee issues.
You can imagine when I read scriptures about "running the race" or the one we have coming this Sunday in Hebrews 12 -- let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us," I break out in a cold sweat and remember the pain I endured (and still do) when running for too long. And I might guess that people of faith, sometimes are not too fond of going through their faith journey when it requires running with perseverance ... running through the hardships of life which bring pain and suffering and doubt. Have you ever felt that way?
Maybe the thoughts of a marathon runner are wise, and we should endeavor to move through life enduring those pains and [spiritual] soreness that come with this journey. Running builds character because it is difficult, and because many of the virtues can neither be exhibited nor developed in the absence of hardship. The same could be said us of one's faith journey.
This Sunday we will continue our look at the "Faith Hall of Fame" and what they had to endure to run their own races of faith.