Tomorrow I am planning on going on a run.
A fifteen mile run.
I am going to suffer. It is going to hurt to to be out there for three hours fighting the elements. I might even have to run during a snow storm.
But like Paul who wrote in his letter to the Romans, I will rejoice in my suffering. I will rejoice when my whole body aches and creaks when I try to move. I will rejoice in the sweat that soaked my hair and clothes. I will rejoice in my pain.
More than that we rejoice in our suffering....
I rejoice because I know that this run gets me a little bit closer to be able to endure running a half and a full marathon. This run will build my endurance.
...knowing that suffering produces endurance.
Also this run will build character. It takes guts to say that you are going to run fifteen miles but it takes character to finish it. You can't run a marathon on just your body strength. I will get tired. I will have to talk myself through the last half of the race. I will want to quit, I will want to give up. Even tomorrow thoughts of quitting with flicker through my head. I know. They have come before.
...and endurance produces character...
Just like the passage I won't stop here...this run will produce hope. Hope that I will be able to run my best in the half in a couple weeks. Hope that I will finish those long grueling runs that are needed to finish a marathon. Hope that I will finish the Lincoln Marathon in May and that I will finish well.
..and character produces hope,
There is one last thing that this run will do....and all the other runs will do for me. They will give me hope that will not put me to shame. I won't line up at the starting line of these races and peter out after only a couple miles. The suffering that I endured, that produced endurance to run long miles every week, which in turn built the character in me to keep at it, to get up early several mornings a week and brave the cold. All this gives me hope that I know will not disapoint me. I know because of all I went through that I will finish the race. (Lord willing)
..and hope will not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given us.