Together in the Orchard

Faith Like a Marathon

by Betsy Herman | Feb 26, 2022 | faith | 2 comments

My package finally arrived, but I felt guilty when I opened it. I held the lightweight jacket against my chest and admired the finisher’s medal for the race I didn’t run. I had paid the fee, but I didn’t earn this gear. If I had truly run that race, I would have persevered. I would have experienced pain. I would be stronger because of it. And I would hold that jacket and medal as if they were truly mine.

I had signed up to run the race as a “virtual” half marathon (meaning I would run the 13.1 miles at a time and place of my choice). I had run another half marathon years before, and I loved it. Then pregnancy, moving, and health complications threw off my momentum, but I felt determined to give this one a try because I find running to be exhilarating! The endorphins feel good, and the body becomes stronger. Running outdoors is a way to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation. But I quit too soon. I didn’t run this race. If I had, I would be stronger and more determined.

It made me think about some parallels between living the Christian life and running a race. Walking with God for decades isn’t easy, but it is worthwhile. Here are a few race-related points to remember when living a life of faith is hard.

  1. The Christian life is like a marathon, not a sprint. The faith journey will be long. Living our faith affects all areas of our lives. A Christian marriage requires perseverance year after year. Christian parents must lead and teach children day after day (and night after night) for decades. Living our faith can feel messy, like running a marathon in the rain. We run through mud, or heat, or cold. We might step in nasty things. We feel pain. We might question our decision and want to quit. We become tired of putting one foot in front of the other. But a person serious about running a marathon keeps on running. Living our faith means that we “run with endurance the race before us” (Hebrews 12:1).
  2. We must stay on course. We must “press on to know Him” (Hosea 6:3). We read and listen to the Bible. We worship. We sing to Him. We pray. We align our thoughts with God’s Word. When our marriages are struggling, we must bring everything to God. When parenting feels overwhelming, we dig into God’s Word and press on. We strive to honor God with our finances, our decisions, and our daily lives. God never promised that following Him would be easy. Based on my own life and on my observations of friends and family members who have been following God for a long time, I can promise that this life of faith can be challenging, but always worth it.
  3. We need proper fuel and strength training. A serious runner eats and drinks intentionally to fuel his body. To run this long race of faith, we must consume God’s Word. We build strength and stamina through prayer and implementing the teachings in the Bible. A year ago, our baby died and I shared my thoughts through writing. Some would comment with “you’re so strong.” No, it wasn’t that I was strong – the only reason my faith seemed strong is because I had been strength training for years. I had been clinging to God and digging into His word through difficult circumstances for years – and I continue to do so.
  4. There will be suffering. God never promises that the Christian life will be easy. Instead, suffering is part of the process. In John 16:33, Jesus says that we will have trouble, but He also reminds us that He has overcome the world. 2 Timothy 2:3 says, “Join me in suffering.” It’s a fact: there will be suffering in the Christian life, so let’s not be upset when it happens! In her book, Suffering is Never for Nothing, Elisabeth Elliot defines suffering as “wanting something you don’t have and having something you don’t want.” This definition applies to countless areas of our lives. I am fully convinced that Jesus makes all things better in this life, and at the same time, I also know that life is still hard. You and I will suffer. It’s part of running the race.
  5. The prize will be worth it. While studying Hebrews, friends and I discussed the ultimate reward of our faith: a relationship with Jesus both here on earth and in Heaven for eternity. The nearness of Jesus in the past few years of trials in my life assures me that He is worthwhile. Christians dying for their faith in Afghanistan would tell you that clinging to Jesus is worth it. When our unborn son died unexpectedly, I began thinking of Heaven in a new light: it’s not just the afterlife where we sing forever. It’s God’s Kingdom forever! We don’t fully understand it, but I know without a doubt that there is a much bigger picture of what God is doing than what we can see right now. As Christians, we walk with God on earth, and after we die, we spend eternity with Him. Yes, God gives us specific callings and wonderful blessings here on earth, but ultimately our greatest reward is Jesus.

The race I didn’t finish could have brought personal fulfillment. The prize that came in the mail was unimportant. However, choosing to keep running through a life of faith is significant. I’m persevering in this life of faith alongside friends and family members and others around the world because we believe that knowing God is worth it.

If you’re struggling, I hope that by reading this, you realize that suffering and hardship are normal parts of faith. It’s okay. Find other believers who are running that race as well. When I ran my first half marathon, I shed tears as I watched other runners. I felt emotional because we were all doing that hard thing together. I still cry when I watch runners in a race. Today, let us move forward in a new resolve to persevere, to continue running this race, reaching for the prize: Jesus. I promise it’s worth it.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.

Hebrews 12:1 NLT

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Your Scribe: Betsy Herman

I'm Betsy, and I'm currently writing from Hawaii. I'm passionate about writing my way through life's challenges and encouraging others to put their hope in God, regardless of what they're going through. I've written four books, which you can find on Amazon. Click my name above to see my full bio and check out my other posts.


  1. I loved your racing analogies, Betsy. Thanks for sharing some good insights and encouragement.

    • That’s a compliment from a racing family! Thank you!


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