This is Not That Day

I’m not much of a runner, but I did run another half marathon last weekend. It was long and sweaty and all the usual stuff. But we did it.

Around mile 8 or a little after we passed a sign that looked just like this:

yard sign

I teared up.

I know, I know, there’s nothing particular special about me having tears in my eyes. But this was a powerful message of encouragement to me in that moment. I know that I won’t always be able to do such a thing. But that day I was fully capable.

As I’ve reflected on that sign and the powerful reminder therein, I was reminded of the very common theological sentiment that God will never give you anything you cannot handle. That’s a very comforting thought, perhaps, but there is one small detail about it that bothers me: it’s absolutely untrue.

Hear me out.

Everything about our human condition is utterly beyond our own ability to overcome. We are all born broken and full of selfishness (which God calls sin). We cannot overcome that.

But there is a much more accurate and much more important truth: what God requires, God provides.

Did you catch that?

What God requires, God provides.

It’s like that great hymn said it, “All I have needed, Thy hand hath provided – great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!”

That means that, whatever challenge or issue is in our path today, God has provided what we need to endure and even grow through it.

So let me take this sign in a different context. The day that I cannot run the race set before me will never come simply because God will faithfully provide what each day requires when it is needed… but seldom before.

What difference does it make?

Well… it changes how I see the race. It changes how I see that monstrous hill rising in front of me or the rocky path ahead. It doesn’t make the bumps go away or even really take away the sting of weary muscles, but it does give me a comforting assurance that the struggle and the difficulty is temporary.

But there is something deeper, more powerful that I see. It means that the pain of the struggle—and there is always pain in the struggle—will not be wasted.

One of the most misunderstood assurances in the Bible is found in Romans 8 where we read this important truth:

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Rom 8.28)

Paul goes on to explain that God’s purpose for all those who believe is to transform us into the image of His Son, Jesus. I think what he is getting at is that God is using all of the hardness of this life to accomplish His transforming work.

I want to encourage you today by simply reminding you that, no matter what this day requires, God will provide it. In fact, He most like already has done so.

Run your race. You can do it.

You can do it because you can trust Him to give you every ounce of strength required.

You can do it because He is faithful.

You can do it because He promised.

And His promises are true.

My Advocate Had None

Walking through the path of Jesus toward his crucifixion, I’ve been reflecting upon the outrageous trial he endured before the Jewish court. He stood there as they looked for a fraudulent accusation that was sufficient for them to justify sentencing him to die.

As I have read through the accounts of this occurrence, it strikes me that Jesus was, in a very real sense, alone. He had no one to speak on his behalf or to represent his interests. There was no one there to argue his innocence. He answered only when asked a direct question and then he spoke the truth that gave the leaders all of the justification they needed.

Blasphemy. They accused Jesus of blasphemy because he affirmed that he was the Son of God. Indeed, it was blasphemy…unless he really was God.

Jesus spoke only a couple of sentences in an entire night of prodding, chiding, and accusation. He had no one to speak for him. He had no advocate.

An advocate is simply one whose role is to speak up for someone else. In 1 John 2.1 we see these powerful words, “…we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”

As I think about the hatred and vitriol spewed continually upon Jesus that night, it rocks my soul to realize that Jesus, my advocate, had none.

When we have failed and our accuser rails to the righteous Judge regarding our guilt, there is no answer that we can make. But Jesus, our Advocate, answers for us. He speaks up when we have no words. Yet, when he stood facing his accusers, he had no advocate.

As the blessed old hymn so sweetly asks, what wondrous love is this, O my soul?