Running fast but getting nowhere ∙
If racing against mere men makes you tired, how will you race against horses? – Jeremiah 12:5
2 Corinthians 9:6-11
6 Remember this – a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop.
7 You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”
8 And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.
9 As the Scriptures say, “They share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be remembered forever.”
10 For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.
11 Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God.
Far too often, we feel mired, trapped in predicaments where we try as hard as we can and seemingly accomplish nothing.
In Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, Alice was dismayed after much running to find she and the queen were still in the same spot. “Well, in our country,” said Alice, still panting a little, “you’d generally get to somewhere else – if you run very fast for a long time, as we’ve been doing.”
“A slow sort of country!” said the Queen., “My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere, you must run twice as fast as that.”
If you are running as fast as you can, how can you run any faster? Alone in the natural, fallen world, you cannot. To run faster, you have to get outside of yourself.
Perhaps this could be best understood by a negative. Although Cain and Abel were brothers, they were polar opposites of one another. Abel was compliant and obedient. He wanted to do the right thing in the right way. Cain, on the other hand, was rebellious and defiant. Doing things the right way did not matter to him. He wanted to do things his own way.
Cain was limited by the selfish, self-imposed walls he had built around himself. He was disappointed and grew angry, sullen, and dejected. Cain attacked Abel and murdered him. When he was confronted, the Father asked, where is your brother Abel?
Cain’s answer was brusque, defiant, and harsh, “I don’t know, am I my brother’s keeper?
Although Cain ran as fast as he could, he was very slow.
One of the secrets of life is that all that is really worth doing is what we do for others (Lewis Carroll).
Isaiah 32:8 Generous people plan to do what is generous, and they stand firm in their generosity.
But if you get outside of yourself and ask what is best for others and then implement it, you will find yourself running faster than you could ever imagine. It begins when you put others before yourself. It is about focusing on others and fulfilling their needs.
REFLECT & PRAY
The Father encourages us, but He also challenges us. He speaks soft words, but He also speaks strong words when we need to hear them.
Father You know the path that You have laid out for me. Strengthen me to endure and overcome.
Jeremiah was curious and a bit dismayed at the circumstances in which he found himself. The Father God did not console Jeremiah, nor did He answer Jeremiah’s questions. Instead, the Father used the situation as a teaching moment. He provided a bit of caution with His counsel. If Jeremiah could not cope with the current state of affairs, what would happen when severe difficulties arose?
The Father sets forth a simple case of “from the lesser to the greater.” The lesser requirement involves a foot race with men. The point is, if mere men wear you out, how can you contend with the greater demand of trying to keep up with horses? In other words, if a small problem takes the wind out of your sails, how can you possibly withstand overwhelming difficulties?
The Father uses turbulence and trials to reveal where we are, strengthen us and increase our ability to not only withstand but also to overcome. He does not use hard times to destroy us.
3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.
4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope.
5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment.
The Greek word translated as endurance is hupomone. Hupomone literally means to remain under. It has the sense to persevere, to bear up under, having patience in difficult circumstances. It is associated with hope and refers to that quality of character which does not allow one to surrender to circumstances or succumb under trial (Zodhiates). Hupomone is like a muscle. It grows and develops over time as a result of the proper responses to the vicissitudes of life. The Father wants to develop in us this exceptional quality.
Ephesians 4:23 Let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.
As the Holy Spirit renews our minds and attitudes, we are able to rejoice in the face of difficulties knowing that his endgame is to develop confident hope, not disappointment.
© Dr. H 2022