Encouragement 11-09-04

Published: Nov 09, 2004


November 9, 2004
Encouragement for Today

The Hurdle Race of Life
Glynnis Whitwer, Senior Editor P31 Woman, Speaker for Proverbs 31 Ministries, editor@proverbs31.org

Key Verse

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."  Hebrews 12:1 (NIV)


I watched the 100-meter Olympic hurdle race in stunned amazement.  How could this happen?  The favorite to win the race, and world's top ranked woman hurdler, fell heavily upon the ground after tripping over the first hurdle.  Her pain was evident, her frustration showing in every inch of her body. 

My heart ached for this woman who had devoted her life to the sport.  She was focused, competent, highly trained and had sacrificed much to get to the pinnacle of amateur track and field.  Yet one mistake, one misjudgment, one miscalculation ended her chance of winning.

The similarities between a race and life are striking.   In fact, the writer of Hebrews speaks of the Christian life in terms of a race in chapter 12, verse 1: "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." 

I believe for the Christian, life is like a hurdle race.   Whether you face one hurdle or 10, to be effective in life you need to know how to get over the hurdles.  Unlike a normal hurdle race where the barricades-like structures are specifically placed and obvious, hurdles in life pop up in the most surprising places and catch us off guard.  Unfortunately, even the most spiritually mature woman can be surprised by her reaction to life's challenges.

The good news is that the hurdles we face are no surprise to God.  He's not wringing His hands wondering how we're going to get over the current challenge or finish our race.  In fact, He's already got the solution to every challenge we'll face, and He even sent us a model for soaring over them. 

Hebrews 12: 2 and 3 offer hope for those struggling with the hurdles in life.  It involves keeping our eyes on Jesus and learning from Him.   The verses say, "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider Him who endures such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."

To finish our race well, we need to cast off every weight and sin that hinders us from completing God's call on our lives.   This makes it sound like an easy task, simply shake off our leg irons of sin and other burdens.   However, John Derby got it right when he said, "When we keep our eyes on Jesus, nothing is easier; when we are not looking at Him, nothing more impossible."

My prayer for today

Heavenly Father, I rejoice in You and praise You for Your strength, kindness and love.  You know how I struggle with the hurdles in my life.  Thank you for not leaving me alone in my troubles.  I ask for increased strength to finish my race well.  Help me keep my eyes on Jesus.  In His Name, Amen.

Application Steps:

List some of the challenges in your life.  Identify those that happen often.  List specific ways you can overcome those challenges.  Study the life of Jesus in the Gospels to identify how He dealt with the hurdles in His life.  Memorize Scripture that will encourage you when you face the challenges in your life.

Reflection points:

List some sin that hinders you from living the life you believe God wants you to live.

Even good things can hinder us from running the race laid out before us.  Can you think of any examples in your life?

What types of hurdles, or challenges, can surprise you?

Hebrews 12:2 & 3 tell us to "fix our eyes on Jesus."  Why would watching Jesus help us in our challenges?

What helps you persevere when life gets tough?

Power Verses:

"Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges My name.  He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him." Psalm 91: 14-15 (NIV)

"Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward. But if it were I, I would appeal to God; I would lay my cause before Him.  He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted." Job 5: 7-8 (NIV)

"The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know Your name will trust in You, for You, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek You." Psalm 9: 9-10 (NIV)

"The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD; He is their stronghold in time of trouble." Psalm 37: 39 (NIV)

"Praise be to the LORD, for He has heard my cry for mercy. The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to Him in song." Psalm 28: 6-7 (NIV)

Additional Resources:

P31 Woman Magazine by Proverbs 31 Ministries

Who Holds the Key to Your Heart by Lysa TerKeurst

Coming out of the Dark by Mary Southerland

Originally published Tuesday, 09 November 2004.