June 30, 2017
Joy in the Triathlon
Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength (Nehemiah 8:10, NIV).
Friend to Friend
Oh friend, please don’t misunderstand. I didn’t participate in a triathlon. I watched it.
A few years ago, my family was on vacation and just happened upon an Ironman 70.3 triathlon in progress. We had never seen anything like it before. The Ironman 70.3 races include a 1.2 mile swim, a 56 mile bike ride, and a 13.1 mile run, which adds up to 70.3 miles of total racing. We watched in amazement as numerous forty and fifty somethings crossed the finish line and even a 69-year-old, but we were most inspired by the man we saw biking using a racing wheelchair.
He had no legs and was motoring through those hot, rigorous miles using his upper body alone. As we cheered wildly for him, he looked up and stuck out his tongue as if to say, “Phew, this is tough!” But the twinkle in his eye revealed his joy.
I’m sure there were many times along that 70-mile race when he wanted to give up, but somehow he didn’t. He might have doubted himself as he swam, or contemplated his sanity with each additional mile on the road. Yet for the joy of the finish line, he kept pressing on.
I don’t run and a triathlon is certainly not on my bucket list. But twice a week, I attend a cycling class with a personal trainer who works in our neighborhood. My husband talked me into going more than 12 years ago after my first child. He even convinced my mom to cycle too. When I don’t feel like moving another muscle, my instructor yells, “Keep going! Give me all you’ve got! Don’t give up!”
Her influence pushes me to complete each class, a feat I could not do in my own strength. Guess what? That’s kind of like what God does for us, but He does a much better job than any human coach. When we’re weary, we can lean on His joy to be our strength.
The Bible uses the words joy and happiness interchangeably. In Esther 8:16, it says it was a time of happiness and joy. Proverbs 23:25 (NLT) says, “I will turn their mourning into joy and bring happiness out of grief.” Did you know God Himself is described as a happy God? In 1 Timothy 1:11, the Apostle Paul speaks of the “glory of the blessed God.” That word “blessed” is translated into the common word we know as happy.
How’s your strength level today? You may or may not be ready to push your body like an athlete, but do you live with a twinkle in your eye like that inspiring man in the wheelchair? In God’s presence, there is fullness of joy. Set your eye on the prize of the high calling you have in Christ Jesus. Put a smile on your face for He is with you. Let His joy be your strength today.
Dear Lord, I praise You for being with me in good times and bad. You are the God who saves. Your Word says You delight in me and rejoice over me with singing. I invite You to fill me with Your joy, which is my strength.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
If you get stuck today in a bad mood or a hard situation, repeat to yourself, “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” Pray and invite the happiness of Jesus to lift up your heavy heart.
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