If you managed to get out of the house a little during the last eight weeks, you will have
noticed an increase number of joggers. People of all shapes, sizes and ages pounding the streets in an effort to retain their fitness during lockdown (good on them I say). In my mind I want to join them… but as they say ‘the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak’.
Whilst out walking, I have noticed some runners ‘grimace’ at certain times and also stop and hold their side. This, of course, is them experiencing the inevitable ‘stitch’. I remember from my cross country runs in school, developing a stitch wasn’t pleasant, and running through that pain was a challenge.
The Christian life is likened to a race, times when it’s nice and steady and focussed, and then times when we feel the ‘stitch’. It’s painful and hard and we consider quitting and walking away. In 2 Corinthians 4 the Apostle Paul shares his own personal testimony. He starts and ends the account with the same phrase… ‘Don’t lose heart’. He shares with us his own intensely personal struggle to keep going and not give up. It’s a compelling account of grit and determination.
When you think of it, Paul had plenty of reasons to lose heart. It’s admirable how he kept focussed and passionately energised to do the work that God had called him to do. I admit there have been times when I have felt no one cares, no one is paying attention, I’m running on empty, devoid of energy and enthusiasm. All of us travel through periods of discouragement, and we, generally speaking, pass through them into a better place.
The demands of life in lockdown can wear you down and cause you to be insular and withdrawn.
Can I share some pastoral counsel with you:
1) Renew your perspective… God is at work. Look what He is doing internally and what God is doing eternally. At the end of Chapter 4, Paul tells us that his inner man (i.e his spiritual nature) is being renewed every day. Change the way you look at your circumstances – the key to persistence is perspective! Paul also reminds us not to dwell on things that are seen, but value eternal things. See the bigger picture. Trust even when you cannot see.
2) Rehearse the promises of God… cling to them. Look to memorise certain Bible verses
e.g ‘all things work together for good to them who live God’ Romans 8 v 28. Feed your spirit with God’s Word every day. Stand on His promises and speak them over your life each day.
One day, during the the Second World War, the Prime Minister of the day, Winston Churchill travelled on the London Underground to the House of Commons. He had a very big decision to make for this nation. As he sat in the carriage with the general public, he invited them to share their thoughts. A little girl sat opposite him asked if she could speak. He gave her permission and she simply said, ‘never give up’. The rest is history. Churchill used that phrase regularly throughout the remainder of his life.
‘Don’t lose heart’. God is greater than Covid-19, His plans stand forever, we will emerge from this stronger and more effective, and in case it might have slipped your mind… You are the apple of His eye!
Run through the stitch and win the prize… Winners never quit… Don’t lose heart.