“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” – (NIV, Heb 12:1)
Just before the pandemic hit us in early 2020, we, the Singapore runners, were all happily joining physical races such as Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon, Marina Bay Run, 2XU, Sundown etc.
There was one race that had a lasting impression on me.
It was the 2XU Compression Run in April 2019.
I took part in the Half Marathon (HM) category.
I was pacing myself well for a comfortable 2.45 finishing time until something gave way at the 2/3 mark.
My knee failed me.
From that point onwards, I painfully walked, limped, and hobbled all the way to the finish line.
Post event, I reflected on the experience.
The HM, like the marathon, can be likened to life itself.
We imagine living a comfortable life, maybe even cruising through it; Then God sends us on a detour and throws us a curved ball.
What would we do then?
We often pray that He will provide for us and protect us from all harm.
But like what happened to my knee at the 14km mark of my race, we could well be confronted with an unpleasant situation that threatens to derail us from our dream life.
I would be the first to confess that from that fateful 14km mark till the finish line, I had doubts if I would ever reach the end, and even entertained thoughts of registering a much dreaded Did Not Finish (DNF).
I had to dig deep within me to find the resolve and fortitude to cover the remaining 7km.
Now, back to the earlier analogy of an unexpected life situation.
It could well be a job loss, a miscarriage, a chronic illness and even something terminal such as an incurable cancer.
How are we supposed to endure and live out the remainder of our lives in full knowledge of our loss?
Will life resume as normal again?
I have learned much from my years of racing since 2015, not forgetting the various injuries that I have suffered and the pain that goes with it.
I often ask this question – God, will I be able to run normally again?
Our instinctive response would be to fight the loss/pain with all our strength or perhaps find the cause or reason for it.
Other times, we resign to our plight and wallow in self-pity.
The better alternative is to ask what God is doing through the pain and trial.
What is God telling me through the injury that had suddenly occur during my race?
What is the Lord teaching me through the difficult situation?
How is He going to use this unpleasant situation to make something good out of it?
Romans 8:28 comes to mind.
So, what did I learn from the injury that I sustained during the HM race and how did I endure the pain of a long recovery?
The Lord taught me three things – Too Fast, Too Far, Too Frequent.
He was teaching me to learn injury prevention by not running too fast, too far and too frequent, both in training and races.
And through the recovery process, he was teaching the discipline of waiting on Him and trusting Him unreservedly.
As a runner, I have since learned that life and running often has parallel lessons.
From running to living – What if something debilitating hits us and brings us literally to our knees?
How will God use a painfully difficult situation for His glory?
I believe that every pain, trial, difficulty, or suffering can be redemptive and can magnify His name.
The Cross of Jesus is an example.
In closing, please let me share this story which was first published on Salt & Light website around Christmas 2021.
It’s a retelling of my late wife’s cancer journey of how she faced, struggled, wrestled and eventually submitted in a glorious surrender to God’s hands.
Prayer and Reflection:
- Are you experiencing something right now that is painful or challenging that you can turn it around and allow God to use it for His glory?
- Take some time to lay down your trials, pain, challenges etc. and begin to give thanks to the Lord for each of them, declaring Romans 8:28.