The Groaning, but Hopeful Runner
On a recent long run, I was enjoying a chilly January morning on a beautiful greenway through the woods. My surroundings were so pleasant, I left my headphones off and took in all God’s creation: the lake, the ducks, the squirrels – all of it. Around mile 9 – ouch – I was reminded of my nagging hamstring injury. I ran through that, but a few moments later, a weird pain started shooting through my left foot. By mile 11, I caught a pesky cramp in my side. These were all mild discomforts, thankfully, but for a bit they really put a damper on enjoyable run.
“God, why does my body have to hurt?” I asked as I ran through the discomfort. Throughout the rest of the run, God answered me.
In Romans 8:23, Paul says, “…we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” Each time we pull a muscle or notice a wrinkle, we can agree with Paul here, right? We’re all groaning inwardly waiting on another body from our heavenly Father, which is what I was feeling this morning on my achy run.
Dwelling on each twinge of discomfort, I had the inward groaning part down, but I left out the part where I eagerly wait for redemption. Isn’t that a frequent problem for us? We get caught up in the irritations of this world, with our bodies, relationships, and circumstances, but forget that it’s all pointing to something bigger and better. Paul didn’t forget, for in Romans 8:18 he says, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
The key point? If we can keep our hearts and minds on the “…blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ…” (Titus 2:11), we can endure the brokenness of our body and the harmful world we live in. If a runner can keep his or her eyes on the finish, they’ll be able to endure the twinges of pain that come and go during a race. If that runner begins to dwell too much on the ailing knee or foot, it’s going to be a long race. It’s the same with the Christian life: too much focus on the trials of this world without Christ’s future glory in sight, and we’ll struggle.
No, your Christian run won’t be free of aches and pains, but trust God that every hurting moment life offers will drive you closer to the healing Savior and away from the world, which has no answers for life’s suffering.
“While other worldviews lead us to sit in the midst of life’s joys, foreseeing the coming sorrows, Christianity empowers its people to sit in the midst of this world’s sorrows, tasting the coming joy.” – Tim Keller