By WALTER ALBRITTON
Lately I have been praying for my friend John, who is grieving over the death of a 15-year-old boy. John is a teacher and coach at an Arizona high school. First and foremost a Christ follower, John spent several years coaching young boys in a summer basketball league. It was during this time he met 10-year-old Trey, a gifted ball player who was struggling with emotional problems. John was soon in the boy’s balcony, pulling for him, praying for him and encouraging him. Understandably, John was heartbroken when the young man committed suicide.
Like many people overwhelmed by hopelessness, the boy John loved quit the game of life all too soon. But I know John. He will grieve, but he will not quit. He will continue reaching out to youngsters. He will keep on infusing his teaching and coaching with faith, hope and love, determined to influence his students to choose Christ’s Way into a meaningful life.
Yes, life is difficult, and even more, it is sometimes cruel and bewildering. Terrible things happen that make the best of us feel like giving up. But here’s the good news: The strength to hold on is available! How do we find the help we need? By turning to Jesus. He alone can give us the strength to carry on. The writer of Hebrews understood this. Want proof? Go read again the first 13 verses of Chapter 12; this passage will light your fire even if your wood is wet!
These verses lift up the mighty power of Jesus, upon whom our eyes should be fixed. Life’s race is indeed hard; it is never easy. No one can run it without a good supply of perseverance. How do we get it? The secret is in the first two verses: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders, and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.”
First, the writer reminds us that we are not alone; we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who are cheering us on to victory. That cloud includes faithful servants of the past who are now in the Church Triumphant. They are with us. They are in our balcony. In the stillness you can hear them shouting, “Go on! You can do it! Don’t give up!”
Encouraged by that, we have but to look to Jesus — and he will give us the strength to persevere, to stay the course. Life’s race is not a 100-yard dash; it is a marathon. By looking to Jesus, trials and misfortune can be overcome. Jesus will inspire us to decide that “quit” is not in our vocabulary. He will help us pick up the pieces and stay in the game. He will guide us to the finish line!
If today, overwhelming obstacles are pushing you to give up, believe that almighty God is sending you a message. This is the message: Don’t quit! Turn to Jesus. He will help you persevere. He will give you hope as you pray for daylight. He will stay with you until the sunshine of His love breaks through the darkness of your soul.
How do I know this? I know it because He helped me refuse to give up when I felt like quitting. I didn’t deserve His help, but He gave it to me freely when I turned to Him. If He did it for me, He will do it for you because He loves everybody.
So, don’t quit! Don’t quit, and turn to Jesus.