Pushing Through

by Rhonda, March 12, 2022

My son and I are training to get in shape by running together.  I'm not sure why we made this commitment in the coldest weeks of winter, but we've not always been known for our logic.  We don't own a treadmill, so the only option is to run outside.  After a particularly freezing run this week, I asked him how he was doing as we made our way into the house.

"I feel great." Funny how endorphins can make a person forget they're hypothermic. "Mom, you know something?  There's Christian lessons in running," he added.  

"How so?" I asked.

"When we ran up the hill, I had to just push through even though I felt like I couldn't make it.  Its like...you gotta push through your problems even when you feel like you can't make it."

"I agree with you," I said.  "In fact, when you feel the worst, you're usually near the top of the hill."

"I know!" he responded.

His observation is biblically accurate.  Many times in the Bible, the tougher the resistance, the closer the breakthrough.  Breakthrough victories as a Christian don't come without hard work.  Defeat of the enemy always come with a battle, but we are closer to the top of the hill than we think.  Even when the battle seems overwhelming, God reminds us to never lose hope because we are not meant to fight alone:

15 Jahaziel said, “King Jehoshaphat, listen! All you who live in Judah and Jerusalem, listen! The Lord says to you, ‘Do not be afraid. Do not lose hope because of this huge army. The battle is not yours. It is God’s. 16 Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz. You will find them at the end of the valley in the Desert of Jeruel. 17 You will not have to fight this battle. Take your positions. Stand firm. You will see how the Lord will save you. Judah and Jerusalem, do not be afraid. Do not lose hope. Go out and face them tomorrow. The Lord will be with you.’ ”

(Side note: This is a cute depiction of the story of Jehosaphat in 2 Chronicles.  No matter how old I get, I still love Bible cartoons!)

So often, just like in the story of Jehosaphat, our enemy self destructs before any real damage is done to us.  When this happens, you can be sure that God has stepped into the ring.  In fact, our battles tend to be in the mind, battling fear of what could happen.  Fear is the devil's playground, and fear is often the resistance we fight before the breakthrough.  I once read a quote that said "courage is fear that's said its prayers".  Even though we feel fear, we can still be courageous and stand our ground while we wait for our victory.

If the majority of our battles are around fear, and fear is in the mind, the good news is we can control our minds.  Even if we don't realize it, we have the power within us to have victory over fear.  God would not command us to "not be afraid" and to "not lose hope" if we didn't have the ability.  He instructs us to push through our feelings of fear, and instead face our enemies, while allowing Him to fight the battle.  As it turns out, facing our enemies is what leads us to the top of the hill, and often the trip to the top is easier than we think.  

The hard part is the decision to move forward in the face of fear, even when we feel terrified, and stare down the enemy.  Once we've made that decision, the battle becomes God's.  All we have to do is show up.

When I view past problems in light of God's promises, I see how He was in the ring, fighting my battles all along.  Of all the problems I've feared, not a single one has destroyed me.  Yes, I've been through hard times.  I've been through a house fire, losing everything I own.  I've been through a divorce.  I've been through my son being diagnosed with cancer.  I nearly lost my daughter to an illness several years ago.  But against all odds, I'm still standing. In fact, fear itself was far worse than any terrible event that's occurred in my life.  I bet when you look back on your life, you can say the same.  

God is so faithful.

One of my biggest defenses against fear is to change my focus.  I often can't battle fear by simply telling myself to calm down, or working to convince myself that everything will be okay.  Fear never takes into account the presence of God.  Instead of fighting fear on its terms, I change my focus.  The Bible says fear can't stand in presence of perfect love.  Perfect love is Jesus.  Instead of fighting a battle meant to be His, I change my strategy.  I remind myself of His faithfulness through all of my other problems.  I focus on what He's done, not on what I'm facing.  If He's faithful once, He's going to be faithful again. I add Jesus into the equation, and all of a sudden, those dark fears scatter in the presence of Jesus.  They don't stand a chance.  

The more difficult fear becomes, the more I am determined my goal is to allow it to drive me into the arms of God.  I know if I allow my problems to draw me closer to God, the enemy is defeated.  Instead of trusting God less, I will trust Him more.  Instead of stepping out on my own, I will lean into Him.  Instead of sinning my way out of fear, I will stand firm until God has defeated my situation.  The devil won't win this battle for my mind.  I am determined.

We have the ability to face our enemy.  We don't have to live in the darkness of anxiety and fear, tormented by our thoughts.  We don't have to cower to our feelings.  We don't have to live under the what-ifs that never come to fruition.  Jesus didn't die for our life to be dark.  Instead, He invites us to see when He's fighting our battles, there's nothing to fear.

Tomorrow, my son and I will lace up our running shoes again.  We will run up the same hill that was so difficult yesterday.  We will face that evil, evil hill that threatens to destroy us and make our calves scream for mercy.  

But, you know what?  This time I'm less afraid.  I know its possible to have victory, and without fear, all of a sudden that hill doesn't seem so daunting. 

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