In 1968, the Olympics were held in Mexico City, Mexico. One of the competitors in the marathon was a runner from Tanzania by the name of John Akhwari. However, in one of the earlier qualifying races, he fractured his right fibula. It ended his dream of winning an Olympic medal. But he was determined to compete. So he entered the marathon in spite of his injury.
The runners all took off together on their 26-mile race and the day became night as the race neared its end, over two hours later. Another hour passed, and every competitor had completed the race… except John Akhwari. Spectators in the stadium waited patiently for every runner to complete the marathon.
Finally John Akhwari entered the stadium. His injured leg was wrapped with a bandage, and he struggled as he limped his way around the track. The crowd began to cheer, and with each step the noise grew louder and louder. With each step he gained strength from the cheers. His limp became a walk, his walk became a jog, and his jog became a run. As he approached the finish line, even though he came in dead last, the crowd was on its feet cheering wildly.
In a later interview, a reporter said to him, “It must have been extremely painful and difficult for you to run 26 miles with a broken leg. Why didn’t you stop?”
John Ackwari answered: “My country did not send me to start the race. They sent me to finish it.”
Hebrews 12:1 tells us, 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. The phrase “let us run” could be translated “let us continuously keep on running the race.” In other words, don’t stop running the race until you cross the finish line!
There’s a race marked out for you and me. It’s not an easy race, to be sure, and there is a lot of obstacles along the way. Many times we’re going to be tempted to give up and quit. But God didn’t put us in the race just to start it; He put us in the race to finish it! Perseverance is one of the most important qualities in the Christian life. Perseverance is the ability to endure, to hang in there, to hang on, to stay the course and not quit.
Do you ever feel like quitting? Giving up? Bailing out? Resigning? Just walking away? From a job, a career, a dream, a relationship, a marriage, a ministry, or your faith in God? Have you ever wondered: Am I going to make it? Is it worth the effort? Is it worth the pain? Is it worth the sacrifice?
The writer of Hebrews exhorts us, Don’t throw away your confidence in God, which has great reward. (10:35). All too often, we DO throw away our confidence and quit trusting in God before we see our faith rewarded. We come to the end of our strength and resources and so we quit, and because we quit, we never discover and tap into the power and resources of God.