Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 (HCSB)
Series Focus: “Coffee Talk”
I ran a 5K alone a while ago. As I rounded into the second mile, my thoughts beat me down with every pounding step. “This is tough! Am I going to make it? My legs are so tired!” I can’t…” I missed the camaraderie of my running group, and even the unknown, yet friendly, fellow 5K participants.
Another cycle of steps around the next corner and my thoughts escaped to memories of past races. The sounds of others’ steady paces helped me keep my pace in step. The rhythmic breaths in and out of their lungs caused me to consciously discipline my own breathing. The encouragement resounding through the crowd echoed in my mind: “You’re doing great!” “Almost there!” “You got this!” “You can do it!”
Those sentiments strengthened me in my solo race to take the next step, and the next, and the next… My thoughts jumped to this scripture:
Therefore, since we also have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let’s rid ourselves of every obstacle and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let’s run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking only at Jesus, the originator and perfecter of the faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1 NASB)
As I paced myself for the last half-mile, I relished in the rejuvenating experiences of being surrounded by clouds of witnesses encouraging me to endure and finish my race strong. I imagined people sitting in the stands—the bleacher seats—cheering me on! Yes, while running, but also in life.
Paul exhorted the people in Romans 1:12 (NLT):
When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours.
God created us to run our race with others. We need one another. Our friends encourage us to keep going when life gets tough. Hopefully, we are encouraging our friends. We can surround ourselves with those who strengthen us on our journey and spur us in righteousness, or those who complain, doubt, or negatively influence us.
The author of Hebrews wrote in 3:13 (HCSB):
But encourage each other daily, while it is still called today, so that none of you is hardened by sin’s deception.
Hebrews 10:23-25 (NASB) says:
Let’s hold firmly to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let’s consider how to encourage one another in love and good deeds, not abandoning our own meeting together, as is the habit of some people, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
When I completed my solo 5K that day, I rejoiced! I couldn’t have done it without the memories of the clouds. of witnesses, both friends and strangers, cheering me on. I resolved at that moment to surround myself with a cloud of witnesses who encourage me to endure and run this race strong, in love, goodness, and righteousness.
The voices we listen to and the people we surround ourselves with impact how we run and how we finish. Endure, encourage others, and finish strong! You CAN do it! I believe in you and I’m a witness in the bleacher seats cheering you on!
Holding Fast to Hope,
Scripture References: Romans 1:12; Ephesians 5:1-2; 1 Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 3:13, 10:23-25, 12:1