Christian Living
Bernadette Veenstra

Running Alongside

Recently, my sister in law ran her first half-marathon. She trained hard for this race. All through the fall, and winter, and into the spring. Then two weeks before her race, she started having pains in her leg. She switched out shoes, and rested, but it really didn’t get better. As it didn’t hurt any worse when she was running, she determined to run her race.

She was in a so-so place physically, but a not good place mentally. Even though she had put in the training miles, she just wasn’t sure she was going to be able to run or finish.

Getting in the race with someone

I’m a runner. That doesn’t mean I’m the fastest. It just means that I’ve run for almost eight years now, and I consider it a life-style. I’ve run long, hard races and short, hard races. As I was talking with my sister in law the week before her race, I had a feeling.

I needed to run her race with her. At her pace. Yes, I prayed for her. Yes, I texted her verses. Yes, I encouraged her from my experience. But, I also tied on my shoes early that Sunday morning, filled my water bottles, and met her at her halfway point. It wasn’t easy. Halfway is still over 6-1/2 miles. Halfway was still 6-1/2 miles on top of the 13 miles I had run the day before.

An Encouragement

My sister in law later told me that I knew what she needed, even when she didn’t know it for herself. She is a social runner which means she almost always trains and races with friends. But this, the longest run of her life, she was going solo.

When she saw me, ready to run, and equipped with water, she was encouraged to keep on going, and finish her race. Through running, I’ve learned so many lessons for the Christian life. This experience reminded me of the importance of running alongside each other. Not just figuratively, but tangibly. The picture that immediately comes to mind is that of Moses, Aaron, and Hur in Exodus 17.

Helping in the battle

Amalek had ambushed the children of Israel as they were coming out of Egypt. Joshua was down with the troops, fighting the battle. Moses was on the hilltop upholding the rod of God in his hand. When Moses held the rod up in the air, the Israelites prevailed. When Moses got too tired to hold up the rod any longer, the Amalekites prevailed. Obviously not a good thing.

Aaron and Hur had a solution. They got a boulder for Moses to sit on, and then they each took a side, and held up Moses’ hands, so that the rod remained steady until sunset.

Not just intercession

When we tell this story, we focus on Moses and Joshua-the importance of intercessory prayer and getting in the fight. But, I submit to you that Moses would not have been able to do his part, had not Aaron and Hur been beside him. The battle would have been lost if they had not held up Moses’ hands. It would not have been an easy task for them. It is hard to hold your hands up for a prolonged period of time, as Moses demonstrated.

I’d guarantee that it is not much easier to hold up someone else’s hands for any length of time. It was hard work for all of them. Joshua. Moses. Aaron. Hur.

Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed. Hebrews 12:12-13

Just what they need to keep going

As Christians, it is our job to run alongside our brothers and sisters in their individual races. It’s not easy. It can be inconvenient. It will cost us. But, it will encourage them. It may encourage them enough that they don’t give up. It’s a race, and it’s a battle. Let’s not forget that.

Prayer is key. Interceding for those who haven’t the ability or the words to pray for themselves. Sometimes when we are in the thick of things, we don’t have the faith to pray for healing, or _____. We are clinging to God’s grace, faithfulness, and glory, but we have no idea how that will be manifested. Whether through the trial or through the deliverance.

Practical help

As we come alongside, we can pray the bold prayers. We can do the work of intercession. And, make no mistake, it is work. Just like Moses lifting up the rod. Not only should we pray, but this
“running with” should have some tangible outworking. Make the dinner-even if your schedule is packed. Watch the kids. Attend the visitation or funeral. Send the card or care-package. Bring the cookies. Call. Send a gift card for a meal out. Text a verse. Visit the hospital.

Often from our perspective of having walked this road before, we have some idea of what someone needs. We can know what someone needs even when they don’t. Don’t wait to be asked. People in the thick of trials often don’t want to inconvenience others. They suffer in silence, hands drooping. Aaron and Hur didn’t wait to be asked. They saw the need. They upheld the hands.

Giving hope

By coming alongside, we acknowledge how hard this trial is. We give hope. We give testimony to the past faithfulness of our great and loving God. By bearing the burden with our brothers and sisters, we maybe allow them a temporary respite. And we show in a very tangible way that they are not alone. We see them.
Who does God want you to comfort today?

Bernadette Veenstra


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