1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (NLT)
24 Don�t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 26 So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.
The apostle is encouraging the Corinthians to live as if they are seeking a prize in a race. Paul uses the example of a race to explain the pains and hardships they will face. But while a runner receives a prize that fades away; the prize for the Christian is eternal salvation.
In my life I ran three marathons: San Francisco Marathon, New York Marathon, and the Kiawah Island Marathon. Each race had its uniqueness. The San Francisco Marathon was extremely hilly. Just as I thought it was getting easy I would turn a corner and a mountain of a hill would be facing back. Then there was the New York Marathon. This race had inclines and descents, but they were usually moderate. There were a lot of people out on the streets shouting words of encouragement; motivating everyone to keep going. The Kiawah Island marathon was isolated and flat. The ground was so flat the same muscles groups were used all the time, which made running more difficult. Plus there were no supporters, no one cheering you on.
This is a lot like life. There are times when we face hills that just overwhelm us and we want to give up. There are other times life is going along smoothly and there are plenty of people encouraging us. Other times we are running alone and the path before us seems easy; but deep down there is difficulties and pain. The goal however is to finish the race even if it takes longer than expected or is more challenging than we could have imagined. We are not to give up hope, but instead we are to stay the course in order to cross the finish life. Lord I pray each and every one will not give up on life, but press forward even in difficult moment. Lord I pray You would give strength and let us see the reward that is waiting.