Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. [Hebrews 10:36 (NLT)]
While France was in lockdown because of COVID-19, French marathon runner Elisha Nochomovitz ran a solo marathon on his 26-foot apartment balcony. Having to make around 3,000 laps meant Nochomovitz was unable to get momentum or gain any speed before he had to turn around again. Finding it harder than any other race he’d run, it took the runner six hours and 48 minutes (more than double his usual time) to complete the 26.2 miles. Struggling with self-doubt, he imagined an open window through which someone was telling him he couldn’t finish. Rather than listen, however, he closed that window. “In the end,” said the runner, “it’s only about the mind!” Nochomovitz showed endurance!
The book of Hebrews was written to a group of Jewish Christians some time before 70 AD. Although they’d successfully weathered previous adversity, including public ridicule, beatings, seizure of their property and even imprisonment, they seemed to be facing another wave of even more severe persecution. Beginning to lose heart, the Hebrews were listening to their minds’ voices shouting from the windows and telling them to quit and these early believers were contemplating leaving the Messiah Jesus and returning to Judaism.
Two weeks after Elisha Nochomovitz ran that balcony marathon, he ran another one. The endurance and confidence developed in his first run helped him in the next and, in spite of adding five miles to its length, he cut his time by two hours. Instead of listening to the inner voice of discouragement, Nochomovitz heard his neighbors cheering him on from their balconies.
After warning the uncertain Hebrews that turning their back on Jesus came dangerously close to apostasy, the letter’s writer told them that, “We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved.” [10:39] Reminding his readers of the endurance they’d developed during their first trials, he gave them a rundown of more than a dozen examples of faith from the Hebrew Scriptures. After holding up Jesus as the prime example of faithful endurance, the writer assured them of a cheering section of Biblical heroes whose lives proved that perseverance and endurance in a believer are doable!
The Christian life is more like a marathon than a short sprint and every challenge is an opportunity to increase our endurance. When we hear the voices of discouragement, doubt or fear, like Nochomovitz, we must shut the window on them. Let us look instead to the examples of those who’ve gone before us and hear the witnesses of faith cheering us forward to finish the race!