Recently, I was in London to watch my son run the Marathon; not quite giving Mo Farah any competition but he did great and was faster than the average time. It was quite a challenge to keep up with him, rushing round from one street-side position to another via the underground system, to shout our encouragements. We managed to see him four times, which is good going apparently.

At the end, our fit and healthy son was very tired and was limping a little with muscle pain – but he did it! He wore his finisher’s medal with appropriate pride as we wended our way home.

This week, it was me and my wife’s turn to run the 10k and my daughter to run the half marathon at the Southampton Marathon event, along with several others from Freedom Church. Lesser feats then my son’s achievement, but still significant, requiring dedication, fitness, perseverance and a refusal to give up. It helped all three of us to keep in mind the people who would benefit from the sponsorship money we were raising for Christians Against Poverty, the debt crisis organisation who help so many people in financial and other difficulties. But more of that anther time perhaps.

The analogy of running a race is used by the writer to the Hebrews in the New Testament, when he says, ‘Run with perseverance the race set before you’. He compares the runner with Christ who endured the cross and sat down with his Father in Heaven. From this example, he urges us to, ‘…consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.’

Encountering the uphill section with one kilometre to go in the Southampton race, I could easily have grown weary and lost heart but the crowds gave their encouragement to dig deep and finish the race.

In the same way, I trust that you will be encouraged, whatever your struggle today, to keep going, endure hardship and look to Christ as your perfect example, and in the end, we can look forward to a lasting reward, much better than a runner’s finishing medal.