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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Don't Stop Short

Have you ever been ambushed by an unpleasant surprise? Vanderlei de Lima, a Brazilian marathon runner, had an unpleasant surprise in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. He had already run over twenty-two miles, with just four more left in the race, when “a crazed man rushed into his path and shoved him off the course into a crowd of spectators.”1 The crowd wrestled the man away from de Lima, who was able to regain his composure and continue the race.

But de Lima was not able to regain the lead. Although the incident happened in a matter of seconds, he could not recover the time lost, and finished in third place.

In an interview, de Lima said, “If you stop in a marathon, you struggle the next three or four kilometers. It’s hard to get your rhythm back.”2 Surprises in life can throw us off course or stop our forward movement. Attacks on our faith, courage, and joy can easily ambush us, and hinder our forward progress in life. Rejection and abandonment could have taken the apostle Paul out of the race, but he kept running.

This you know, that all those in Asia have turned away from me, among whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes. (2 Timothy 1:15 NKJV)

How easily does the fear of rejection stop you? Sometimes we might be afraid when we join a group or start a friendship. We may think, “What will they think of me? Will I fit in?” When we feel God wants us to say an encouraging word to someone or promise to pray for them, we may wonder, “Will they accept it well?”

The kind of rejection Paul faced wasn’t a disapproving look or being excluded from the group. It far surpassed that. All in Asia had turned away from him. The people he had spent two years teaching (Acts 19:10), did not stand with him when he was persecuted for Christ’s sake. At least a few of Paul’s friends or fellow workers in the kingdom still cared about him, like Onesiphorus mentioned in the same chapter. But those in Asia—the region of modern-day Turkey—turned away from him. Could we stand such rejection?

Paul didn’t let rejection ambush his courage and determination, and neither did Jesus. He is our greatest example of faithfulness under fire. We can find no greater courage and love than the courage and love of Christ. All forsook Him and abandoned Him, yet Jesus said yes to God. Yes to do the hard thing—to be separated from the Father to pay for our sins and to bear the weight and burden of the cross.

Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done. (Luke 22:42 NKJV)

Our sins may have put Jesus on the cross, but His love kept Him there. For love’s sake, He gave His life.

When someone stops loving us, or treats us in a way contrary to love, what will our reaction be? Will we let someone else’s negativity hinder all the good that God wants to do through us?

Jesus is with us in the race. Nothing escapes His attention. He knows what happens to us and how to counteract the discouragement or opposition we face. He has faced rejection and won. All the suffering that Jesus endured wasn’t strong enough to keep Him from fulfilling the mission God had given Him. When something threatens to push us off course, Jesus is our support; He is with us every step of the way. Keep going.

1 Matt Christopher, The Olympics: Unforgettable Moments of the Games (New York, New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2008), 93.

2 Ibid.

Copyright © 2013 by Katy Kauffman, 2 Timothy: Winning the Victory (Buford, Georgia: Lighthouse Bible Studies, 2013), 53-56. Adapted for CBN.com. Used with permission.

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