Today I am reminded of what Paul had to say in the book of Philippians.
“Whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all thing and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ ” (Philippians 3:7-8)
Paul leaves no room for regrets, in fact he goes on to specifically tell us that he counted everything as loss. More than that, all of those things that he had he counted them as rubbish, the original text translates to the word dung. There is no misrepresenting what Paul is telling us.
If there are two things God makes clear in His Word, they are the facts that we cannot make it on our own and that He will help us if we call out to Him. Countless times in Scripture, we read of men and women who felt as though they had reached the end. They could not go on unless God gave them hope, strength, and courage. And when they called upon the Lord, He heard and answered their prayers.
While God does not promise us a life free from pain and suffering, He does promise to be our strength in our moments of greatest weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). The apostle Paul suffered many afflictions while spreading the Gospel around the world. He was tortured, jailed, shipwrecked, and diseased. Yet he persevered—not because Paul was determined to get the Gospel out, but because God gave Paul the grace to do so.
Paul writes, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9). As we face hardships in life, we must remember that God is not a casual observer. He is an active participant—walking with us every step of the way. He catches us when we stumble, and He cheers us on as we pursue Him. He is the One who gives us the grace to walk through life’s darkest hours.
The apostle Paul wrote, "Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living" (Romans 13:11–12).
The J. B. Phillips paraphrase states it this way: "Why all this stress on behavior? Because, as I think you have realized, the present time is of the highest importance—it is time to wake up to reality. Every day brings God's salvation nearer. The night is nearly over, the day has almost dawned. Let us therefore fling away the things that men do in the dark, let us arm ourselves for the fight of the day!"
"The present time" this verse is referring to is the Lord's return. Paul wasn't addressing his words to nonbelievers; he was addressing Christians. He was addressing his remarks to genuine believers whose spiritual lethargy and laziness made them appear and act as though they had no spiritual lives.
There are times when we feel completely alone. We feel as if no one has ever experienced what we've gone through. No one could possibly know the agony of watching your child suffer from leukemia. No one could possibly know the pain of having your husband walk out on you. No one could possibly know the fear of being diagnosed with breast cancer. But you know what? There are women that have experienced the same thing. They have run the same race.
We are surrounded by people who have struggled through situations and spent countless nights crying to God for strength. They are witnesses to God's love and grace. They are witnesses to the life of faith. How did they manage to survive?
Easier said than done. We, too, can get a little lazy and a little lethargic. Maybe we have been taking in the Word of God without an outlet for what God is teaching us in our lives, and as a result, we are actually falling asleep in the light. We are resting on our laurels and living in our past. We need to wake up. The coming of the Lord is near.
So what should we do? We see people who die without Christ and the thousands and thousands of others who follow. Do we sit and watch them go? Or do we dedicate our lives to showing others the way to turn from their destruction and find salvation in Jesus Christ?
To me, the choice is easy: We urgently point the lost to Christ. We warn them about the result of their current path. We show them the way to Jesus. And we pray that God would transform their hearts so that they may come to know Him and have eternal life!
They didn't do it alone. We aren't made to live this life alone. God has given us people in our lives to run the race of life with us. This race isn't a sprint but a marathon. For anyone who has ever run a marathon, there are moments of highs and even more moments of lows. Everyone finds a point where he or she is ready to give up. Weighed down by the insecurities and doubts that slow us down in this life, you begin to feel that you can't go any further. But you're not alone. You are surrounded by others who are in this same race and struggling with the same fears and pain. They run alongside you and encourage you, helping you finish the race.
As the Apostle Paul said in 2 Timothy 4:7-8 "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness."