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The Tree of Life

How is it that marathon runners are able to finish despite the pain? Because just beyond the final corner is the finish line.

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The End of Suffering

Have you ever watched the ending of a marathon and seen one of the runners come around that final corner in gruelling pain? With each step, their body appears like it's just holding on; they are on the edge of shutting down. The legs are slow, the arms heavy. Why is it that they keep moving forward? Why is it that they're willing to endure pain and suffering? Well, just beyond that final corner is the finish line, the ribbon to be hung around their neck, and the joy and excitement of having finished the race. The joy for all the effort, all the training, all the pain and suffering that they've endured in finishing the race.


This is a helpful visual. Something we can get clear in our minds. And interestingly enough, it's one that God wants us to understand and appreciate. This idea of running a marathon is brought up consistently throughout the word of God. The Bible tells us that Jesus endured the trials of his life "for the joy that was set before him." That's the frame of mind that Jesus used to get through the trials and the sufferings of his life: visualizing the finish line, visualizing the future. That's what got him through. And what's incredible for us is that if we were to come back just a few verses in the Bible, Hebrews 12 opens up by reminding us that we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses. But the language is trying to refer us to the Coliseum! What would have been known to the listeners and the readers on that day is to imagine that you're running in a race, and as you enter into the Coliseum, you're tired, you're struggling, you're suffering through that Marathon. But surrounding you on every side are those who are cheering you on, encouraging you to get to the finish line. That's the visualization that God wants in our minds to help us get through the sufferings and the trials of life. The very same thing that helped his son get through his suffering in his life.


In the same chapter, we're reminded that God puts us through trials and suffering for a purpose. It's not to go on forever, but in Hebrews 12:10 rather that we may share his Holiness. "Now all discipline seems painful at the time, not joyful, but later it produces the fruit of peace and righteousness for those trained by it." We are to appreciate that God is the only one who can offer this reward, that God is the only one who can put for us at the end of this race eternal life. And so we put our trust in him, in a God who can hold the mountains of this world in the palm of his hands, who can measure the heavens in a span. We trust that God knows what's best for us and that God will put us through what he needs to put us through to shape our character and develop us so that we might obtain eternal life.


The Apostle Paul wrote two letters to his good friend Timothy, and those are recorded for us in the Bible. Paul was working to encourage his friend as he worked hard in his life before God. Paul told Timothy that if we suffer in the same way that Jesus suffered, we will reign with him. And so we continue to run this race to turn the corner and to see the finish line that awaits each of us, and we do it because we believe in a God who can do more than we can even ask or think. We know that he has prepared for us something that doesn't compare to any struggle or, suffering or challenge that we might endure today: a kingdom to come where we can reign with his son in right righteousness and peace.

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The End of Suffering | Part 4

How is it that marathon runners are able to finish despite the pain? Because just beyond the final corner is the finish line.

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